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Montreal Protocol to control HFC greenhouse gases

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Early on 6 November, the 27th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol ended negotiations with a clear agreement to address the consumption and production of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons), but without any legal amendment to the protocol to phase down the gases.

“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,” said Mark W. Roberts, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) Senior Policy Advisor. “A phase down agreement under the Montreal Protocol could avoid over 100 billion t of CO2 equivalent emissions and much more if the Protocol incentivises energy efficient technologies.”

An amendment was highly anticipated after parties agreed last week to begin formal negotiations on HFC production and consumption controls, a process that has eluded amendment proponents for six years. Despite some countries, notably India, raising some obstacles, good progress was made on a number of complex issues and there was a clear majority support for the proposals.

The decision text was largely negotiated behind closed doors and asks countries to ‘work within the Montreal Protocol to an HFC amendment in 2016’ and envisages a series of meetings including a future Meeting of the Parties.

During negotiations, developed countries were willing to offer a number of concessions in the result of a phase down agreement. They focused on the need for developing countries to have flexibility in implementation and the need for exemptions in high ambient temperature countries. Some of the more difficult issues such as technology transfer and Intellectual Property Rights remain unresolved.

“The Montreal Protocol has a clear mandate on HFCs and a path forward to resolving the remaining issues and agreeing to an amendment in 2016,” said Clare Perry, EIA Senior Campaigner. “The parties now need to roll their sleeves up and 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.”

Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle

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