“The Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer” is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer. It was originally meant to phase out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion and not Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which do not cause any harm to ozone. But HFCs have very high global warming potential (GWP) and were introduced as replacement for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) which are harmful for the ozone layer. So, most parties believe that it is the responsibility of the Montreal Protocol to phase down or phase out the HFCs as well.
In the Meeting of the Parties (MOP 27) in Dubai last year, a contact group was established on the feasibility and ways of managing Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to negotiate the way forward. The outcome of the conference was termed as the Dubai pathway. A list of challenges was compiled and solutions provided for a few by the parties in Dubai.
The next meeting, which is the 37th Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG 37) of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from April 4-8, 2016. It is expected that the meeting will continue to mainly discuss feasibility and ways of managing HFCs in the contact group. The remaining challenges that have been identified and not discussed by parties in Dubai in the contact group are expected to be discussed and resolved by generating solutions on the feasibility of managing HFCs.
The four amendment proposals to the Montreal Protocol made by various countries including India are also expected to be deliberated in detail only after all the challenges are discussed. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the only non-governmental organisation to have come up with a proposal to phase out HFCs, has suggested an equitable division of HFCs in its proposal as a way out to break the deadlock between the issues that the current proposals cover. The four amendment proposals put forward by parties to be discussed are:
Also expected is a discussion on the report from the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) on alternatives to ozone depleting substances (ODS). The report submitted primarily focuses on the refrigeration and air conditioning sector. A second report covering all the other major remaining sectors is expected to be submitted by TEAP in the Vienna meeting in July which will also address comments received in Geneva.
All the challenges and concerns by the parties and the proposals are expected to be negotiated in the series of conferences by the end of this year. And if a consensus is achieved by all the 196 countries who are parties on phasing down HFC, there is a potential to reducing more than 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent or up to 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.
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