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HFC greenhouse gases to be controlled by Montreal Protocol

The 27th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol ended with a clear agreement to address the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) but stopped short of a legal amendment to the Protocol to phase down HFCs. 

Hopes were high for an amendment after Parties agreed last week to start formal negotiations on HFC production and consumption controls, a process that has eluded amendment proponents for some six years. Although good progress was made on a number of complex issues, and despite the clear majority support for the proposals, a few countries, notably India and some Gulf states, continued to raise obstacles.

The decision text, which was largely negotiated behind closed doors, calls on countries to “work within the Montreal Protocol to an HFC amendment in 2016” and envisages a series of meetings, including an extraordinary Meeting of the Parties.

EIA Climate Campaign Team Leader Clare Perry said: “Montreal Protocol has a clear mandate on HFCs and a path forward to resolving the remaining issues and agreeing an amendment in 2016. The Parties now need to roll their sleeves up, thrash out the details as early as possible and remind us why the Montreal Protocol is often referred to as the world’s most successful environmental treaty.”

During the negotiation, developed countries offered a number of concessions in the event of a phase-down agreement, in particular on the need for developing countries to have flexibility in implementation and the need for exemptions in high-ambient temperature countries. However, thorny issues such as technology transfer and Intellectual Property Rights remain.

Mark Roberts, EIA Senior Policy Advisor, said: “The Montreal Protocol has almost 30 years of successful technology transfer and with the flexibility and commitment shown this week it is clear that these challenges can be resolved. A phase-down agreement under the Montreal Protocol could avoid over 100 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions and much more if the Protocol incentivizes energy efficient technologies.” 

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