Ministers and representatives of G7 countries and the European Commissioner for the Environment met last week in Toyama, Japan. The joint communiqué adopted at the meeting acknowledged the success achieved in 2015—the adoption of landmark global outcomes, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
The meeting recognised the importance of mitigating emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including black carbon, methane, ground-level ozone and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Measures to reduce SLCPs can help slow the rate of near-term warming, while realising significant benefits for human health and food security.
HFC phase down
On measures to address fluorocarbons, G7 welcomed the decision in Dubai by parties to the Montreal Protocol to address HFCs under the Protocol, and support adoption of a Montreal Protocol HFC phase-down amendment in 2016. In the absence of an HFC phase down, HFC emissions are projected to grow 9-19 per cent by 2050, of projected global CO2 emissions under business-as-usual scenarios.
It is a significant decision as the recent negotiations in Geneva were steered by developed countries, including the G7 countries, in informal settings. The negotiations in the contact groups tried to address the challenges put forward by developed countries to phase down HFCs. Once all the challenges are discussed in the forthcoming conferences, it is expected that the contact group will deliberate in detail over the four amendment proposals to the Montreal Protocol made by various countries, including India. Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the only non-profit to have come up with an alternate proposal titled “Getting the world off the chemical treadmill” to phase out HFCs, has suggested an equitable division of HFCs in its proposal as a way of breaking the current deadlock.
This statement by G7 countries shows that they are determined to continue the dialogue in the coming Montreal Protocol meetings to be held in Vienna, Austria, in July and in Kigali, Rwanda, in October. Countries are expected to continue informal discussions in the meantime with the hope that an agreement can be reached by the end of 2016 in Kigali.
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