to the Montreal Protocol have come closer to a deal to further control potent global
warming-inducing chemicals in a move that would provide a powerful push to help
achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change.
to the Protocol, countries have already eradicated chlorofluorocarbons and are on
track to eradicate hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HFCs) – climate-harming chemicals found
in refrigeration, air conditioning and foams. HFCs are often used as a replacement for CFCs and have a global warming effect up to
thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.
their meetings held in Vienna on 15-23 July, the 197 parties to the Montreal
Protocol considered potential freeze dates for HFCs and schedules for reducing
their production and consumption in both developed and developing countries,
and forwarded them for further discussion in future meetings scheduled for
agreed on a menu of solutions to specific challenges. They furthermore agreed on
a study to examine the climate benefits of a phase-down of HFCs and to examine
the finance needed to enact it.
Paris Agreement commits states to limiting the increase in global temperature
compared to pre-industrial levels to two degrees by 2100 and to pursue efforts
to limit this increase to 1.5 degrees. An amendment to the Montreal Protocol to
phase down HFCs could meanwhile save a potential 0.4 degrees of global warming
by the end of the century.
taken under the Protocol has enabled the ozone layer to heal by an area
equivalent to the size of India, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw
told delegates at the Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties held 22-23 July,
which was attended by ministers or high-level officials from over 30 countries.
“It is no accident that the Protocol is quoted again and again as an example of
what can be achieved when 197 parties put their minds to it,” he noted.
while they do not harm the ozone directly, the most commonly used HFCs hold a
global warming potential that is thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.
November 2015, countries therefore agreed on a ‘Dubai
Pathway’ whereby solutions would first be generated to
challenges before an amendment to curb HFCs can be finalised.
“Well on way” to climate win
seven years of talks, countries have moved closer to an amendment to the
Montreal Protocol to control HFCs, with further talks scheduled for the next
meetings of the parties in Kigali, Rwanda in October.
are “well on their way” to achieving “a very big win” in the fight against
climate change, said US State Secretary John Kerry at the meeting, cheering on
the progress being made.
amendment would contribute towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12 on
sustainable consumption and production, which aims to achieve the
environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their
life cycles. In line with a Green Economy, action on HFCs can protect the
planet and its inhabitants, but also foster business.
Montreal Protocol, which is administered by UNEP, entered into force in 1989
and is the world’s first universally-ratified environmental treaty. Without it,
an extra two million people could be diagnosed with skin cancer every year by
2030, while the benefits to agriculture, fisheries and materials are estimated
to be worth $460 billion by the middle of the century.
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Image: UNEP Environment Deputy Chief Ibrahim Thiaw delivers an opening statement during Friday's ministerial roundtable. Photo credit: IISD