Countries agree on a way forward to shape a global HFC phase down in 2016

By Klara Skačanová, Nov 10, 2015, 14:21 3 minute reading

After week-long formal talks on the future management of HFCs, the Montreal Protocol meeting held last week in Dubai concluded with what is believed to be a significant step towards a global HFC phase down. Work will intensify in 2016 with a number of meetings to be held in the coming months, including an extraordinary Meeting of the Parties.

The 27th Meeting of the Parties (MOP27) held 1-5 November in Dubai, signalled genuine hope of a global phase down in 2016 for countries committed to address HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

The end goal, an amendment under the Montreal Protocol in 2016, now looks more encouraging with a contact group on HFCs formed for the first time at the very beginning of the meet. A contact group is a formal meeting setup, which is a mechanism in the negotiations process necessary for forming agreements among countries.

After six consecutive years of proposals to amend the Montreal Protocol from multiple countries, this necessary step is hoped to create greater clarity and cohesion. In the last few years, some countries were strictly opposed to regulating HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, so the fact that all now agree that this is the right way to address HFCs globally is an important step forward.

Nevertheless this marks just the beginning of the negotiations and there is still a long way to go before an agreement on all issues concerning HFC phase down is found. In order to get there, a series of meetings will be held during 2016, including an extraordinary Meeting of the Parties. 

What needs to happen to achieve a global HFC phase down in 2016?

The mandate for a contact group finalised during a two-day meeting preceding the Meeting of the Parties, is a compromise that had been negotiated during several meetings in 2015. According to the mandate, the countries shall first resolve the challenges related to HFC phase down and identify solutions before a formal negotiations process on the amendment itself can be initiated.

Facilitating developing countries key

The issues that need to be resolved include financial mechanisms and increased funding for developing countries to be able to comply with additional commitments. In addition, countries are requesting increased flexibility in implementation of the commitments that would enable them to set their own strategies and priorities in terms of sectors to be addressed, as well as replacement technologies to be selected. Other challenges that need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner include patent costs, second and third conversions, guidance to the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund, and others.

Developing countries have requested that early funding is provided even before an amendment is agreed in order to raise awareness of available technologies in their countries, upscale the knowledge of technicians, adapt the regulatory environment as well as to test and demonstrate the feasibility and energy efficiency of equipment using low GWP technologies.

Some countries suggested that a definition of low GWP or a GWP threshold would be instrumental in ensuring their future compliance, while guiding them in technology choices. An idea of linking the level of funding to the level of emissions in CO2eq was proposed as one of possible solutions, which will be further discussed at future meetings.

A group of developing countries indicated that a special exemption for countries with high ambient temperature conditions would be necessary for areas where suitable alternatives are not yet commercialised. Such an exemption would be subject to a time limit and re-evaluation based on certain criteria.

Conclusion: Still a long way to go

The agreement on a pathway for negotiations on an amendment sends a strong message to the COP21 meeting, which is just around the corner. Yet, looking at the number of issues to be resolved, compromises to be made, it is clear that the work will intensify in 2016. In their agreement countries have foreseen several informal and formal meetings, but besides the annual Open-Ended Working Group meeting and the Meeting of the Parties, the dates and venues of the extraordinary meetings are yet to be set.


By Klara Skačanová

Nov 10, 2015, 14:21

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