Ministers, others back amendment to Montreal Protocol to phase-down HFCs


Ministers and high-level representatives of 25 countries today, July 22 backed the adoption of an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase-down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are powerful greenhouse gases.

The Ministers and high-level representatives of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) are convinced that stopping the fast growth of HFCs and finding alternatives to them is one of the best opportunities to reduce short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), and make a major contribution to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Now is the time to act to ensure that we avoid the climate impacts of HFCs before they grow any larger. The science is clear, as is the path we must take,” the CCAC Communique said. “An HFC phase-down under the Montreal Protocol can avoid up to 0.5⁰ Celsius of global warming by the turn of the century.”

The communique was adopted at a specially convened meeting of CCAC’s High Level Assembly, which confirmed the support and commitment of Coalition partners for rapid action to reduce HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

“We’ve done this before, and we can do it again. The Montreal Protocol is one of our most successful agreements, setting the standard for how serious environmental issues can be resolved when countries work together,” Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said. “Now, we have an opportunity to use it to reduce HFCs-the fastest-growing greenhouse gases on the planet. We need to act now to make the HFC phase-down amendment a reality in 2016, and take one of the most significant steps towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Hakima El Haite, Minister of Environment and Climate Champion of the Kingdom of Morocco, conveyed to delegates that the Moroccan presidency of COP 22 expressly supported the adoption of an ambitious amendment of the Montreal Protocol at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue.

“This will avoid up to 0.5⁰ Celsius of global warming and will be a major contribution to achieve the temperature goals set in the Paris Agreement. If we accompany the HFC phase-down with policies to promote super-efficient appliances we can double our climate benefit while also improving air quality and strengthening energy security,” Dr El Haite said. “The past week we resolved the preliminary challenges, including finance. Now we are ready for the final step, which is to adopt the amendment in October. As a Climate Champion for COP 22, I am committed to achieving this historic agreement this year to protect the Earth and our citizens.”

Many of the HFCs an amendment will reduce have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) 100s to 1000s of times more powerful than carbon-dioxide (CO2).

Moving to super-efficient, and affordable cooling technologies that use low-GWP refrigerants will also have additional benefits for climate change mitigation. Complementing an HFC phase-down with measures to improve the energy efficiency of HFC-containing equipment can also reduce CO2 emissions, the CCAC Communique notes. For example, improving the average efficiency of air conditioners sold in 2030 by 30% could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25 billion tonnes over the lifetime of the equipment.

The CCAC Ministers and high level representatives highlighted the viability of rapid phase-down of HFCs, saying that there are an increasing number of climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs in many sectors and applications and welcomed efforts to develop and adopt technologies and practices that reduce HFC use and emissions and collaborate internationally to expand the availability of low or zero GWP alternatives.

CCAC State Partners also recognized the need for increased support to the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol to provide assistance to developing countries to implement an ambitious phase-down and are encouraged by the recent statements from G7 and Nordic country leaders signalling their intent to provide additional support through the Multilateral Fund following adoption of an amendment for its implementation.

The CCAC Ministers and high-level representatives are committed to being vocal and active on the issue and challenged states to take the significant steps required to “ensure that we have an ambitious HFC phase down amendment in 2016 no later than when the Parties to the Montreal Protocol meet in Rwanda in October 2016”.