Climate Change

Countries to negotiate final HFC phase-down amendment in Rwanda

Parties to the Montreal Protocol are expected to iron out their differences and arrive at a mutually acceptable amendment

 
By Umang Jalan
Last Updated: Friday 07 October 2016 | 10:16:48 AM
Financial assistance from developed countries will be one of the major issues discussed during the negotiations (Image for representation/Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis)
Financial assistance from developed countries will be one of the major issues discussed during the negotiations (Image for representation/Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis) Financial assistance from developed countries will be one of the major issues discussed during the negotiations (Image for representation/Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis)

The final round of negotiations for an amendment to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) will begin on Saturday in Kigali, Rwanda, in a meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The OWEG will be followed by the Meeting of Parties (MOP) on October 10.

HFCs are super greenhouse gases used mostly as refrigerants in refrigeration and air conditioning systems. Parties will discuss three major components of the phase-down amendment:

  • Baseline: It is the HFC consumption and production which will be considered as a reference point for the phase down. Different proposals have offered different time periods for calculating the baseline consumption.
  • Freeze year: It is the year in which HFC phase down will begin and when HFC consumption and production will be equal to the agreed baseline
  • Schedule: It is the amount of periodic reduction in HFC consumption and production as the phase down progresses. Different schedules will lead to different levels of cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which will affect the overall effectiveness of the phase-down schedule.

Additionally, one can expect a clearer picture of the scale of financial assistance from developed countries to facilitate the HFC phase-down amendment. Differences persist, however, between developed and developing countries on a number of issues. They are expected to resolve these issues by the end of the meeting in Kigali.

The talks are part of the Dubai pathway for the phase down of HFCs which articulated the challenges to and the importance of an ambitious HFC phase-down amendment. Solutions to a majority of the challenges, including increased flexibility for countries for sectoral prioritisation during the phase down and increased funding for energy efficient alternatives, were agreed to as part of the talks in Vienna in July this year. The meetings in Vienna also included proposals from both Article 5 (mostly developing countries) and non-Article 5 (mostly developed countries) countries regarding an additional baseline and freeze year for the HFC amendment. The proposals are given below:

A5 baselines and freeze dates

Proponents

Proposed range
(HFC component of baseline)

Freeze date

GCC

2024-2026

2028

China, Pakistan

2019-2025

2025-2026

India

2028 - 2030

2031

African Group,
Pacific Island Countries, Latin America like-minded*,
EU and JUSSCANNZ

2017– 2019

2021

Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina,1 English-speaking Caribbean, Cuba

2021-2023

2025

Iran

2024 – 2027

2029

Non-A5 baseline, freeze date/first reduction step

EU and JUSSCANNZ

2011-2013

90% of baseline in 2019

Belarus and Russian Federation

2009-20131

100% of baseline in 2020

*Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Peru, Paraguay; 1 Subject to confirmation by government

The table shows that there are still significant differences in the positions of developed and developing countries on the exact nature of the amendment. A substantial amount of the disagreement stems from the uncertainty over the finance to be provided by developed countries because of the high cost of alternatives like Hydrofluoro-olefins (HFOs), which are proprietary refrigerant gases with strong patent protection.

It is expected that the Parties will work together to iron out their differences and finalise a mutually acceptable HFC phase-down amendment in the negotiations which end on October 14, 2016. 

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