Montreal Protocol Parties request more info on low-GWP alternatives

By team, Nov 29, 2011, 17:13 3 minute reading

For the third year, Parties to the Montreal Protocol did not reach consensus on taking action to control HFCs under the treaty. However, they did advance discussions on the availability, cost and potential of alternatives to ozone-depleting substances, with low impact on the climate and requested the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) to conduct a study in that respect.

Last week’s 23rd Meeting of the Parties (MOP23) to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, decided to request the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) to prepare within the next few months a report assessing the availability, cost and potential of alternatives to ozone-depleting substances, including those that encompass low climate impact by application and region. The prospect of a report by TEAP on this topic could prove a key point of reference when countries choose HCFC replacement technologies.  

The availability of technologies encompassing low Global Warming Potential (GWP) was also addressed at a side event organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). UNEP launched a new report titled “HFCs: A Critical Link in Protecting Climate and the Ozone Layer” that assesses that low-GWP alternatives, including CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbons are commercially available in many applications already today while more alternatives are being developed. The same report also examines the potential impact of rising HFC use on the global climate.

China, India and Brazil block discussions on HFC amendment proposals

Two sets of amendment proposals calling for an HFC phase down had been put forward by North American (US, Canada and Mexico) countries and Micronesia respectively for consideration at MOP23.

However, from the very outset of discussions it became evident that consensus would not be reached in that respect, with countries led by China, India and Brazil requesting that the HFC phase down proposals be deleted from the meeting agenda. Their main argument in blocking discussions was that the Montreal Protocol addresses ozone depletion and therefore non-ozone depleting HFCs should be rather treated under the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol that addresses climate change.

The same set of countries also successfully blocked discussion on a proposal to phase out potent greenhouse gas HFC23, a by-product of HCFC22 production.

Growing number of countries express support for taking action on HFCs

On a positive note, 29 delegations from both developed and developing countries, as well as environmental NGOs EIA and Greenpeace took the floor during the 2nd day plenary discussions to express their support for controlling HFCs under the Protocol, as opposed to 7 country delegations and 1 organisation from China representing HFC producers who expressed their opposition.

Many of the supporters of the amendments pointed out that decision XIX/6 encourages “Parties to promote the selection of alternatives to HCFCs that minimise environmental impacts, in particular impacts on climate […]”.“We created this mess and it is our moral and legal obligation to clean up this mess”, said the Micronesian delegate Antonio Oposa during his presentation of the amendment proposal submitted by his country.

Besides decision XIX/6 and the fact that 91 countries out of a total of 196 that have ratified the Protocol, have signed a declaration urging action to reduce reliance on HFCs, the opposition expressed by some countries sufficed for the co-chair to conclude that consensus that would allow further discussions on the matter had not been reached.

Towards reaching consensus: the Bali declaration on transitioning to low GWP substances

Indonesia, the MOP23 host country, put forward the “Bali Declation on Transitioning to Low Global Warming Potential Alternatives to Ozone Depleting Substances”. The initiative calls on Parties “to explore further and pursue under the Montreal Protocol the most effective means of achieving the transition to low global warming potential alternatives”.

Already 50 countries had signed the Bali declaration by the closing of MOP23, with the EU and its 27 Member States also expected to sign soon. The US noted that the number of signatories of the similar in nature declaration that it had put forward at last year’s meeting (MOP22) in Bangkok had risen to 107. With the Bangkok declaration now closed, it can be expected that its 107 signatories will also sign up to the Bali declaration.

Next steps

As a result of the meeting decisions, the TEAP will be putting together a report for consideration by the Open-ended Working Group at its 32nd meeting (summer 2012) containing information on, among other things the availability, cost and potential of low-GWP alternatives.  


By team (@r744)

Nov 29, 2011, 17:13

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