Climate Change

Talks on Montreal Protocol amendment proposals begin

One of the major concerns in the discussion on fixing a baseline or freeze dates is the non-existence of data on HFCs by the developing countries

 
By Rakesh Kamal
Last Updated: Monday 25 July 2016

India, on behalf of all the developing countries, introduced a paper in the conference asking Multilateral Fund (MLF) to prepare guidelines on overarching principles and timelines, incremental costs, energy efficiency, institutional strengthening and capacity-building to address safety
Credit: IISD

Negotiations in the Montreal Protocol meeting in Vienna are moving positively. Parties in the contact group have come up with solutions to the challenges on phasing down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as decided last year in Dubai. They have moved to the net step of discussing the amendment proposals to the Montreal Protocol.

There were proposals by negotiators of the European Union, the US and some island countries to put up the comparison of the four amendment proposals on the screen for discussion, but these faced opposition from the negotiators of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

These two countries said that they probably did not agree with any of the proposals and would like to discuss the elements of amendment and then decide the way forward.

Accordingly, the chairs of the contact group decided to discuss the elements of the amendment like baseline year, freeze year for developed and developing countries and then decide the way forward.

One of the major issues of concerns in the discussion on fixing a baseline or freeze dates is the non-existence of data on HFCs by the developing countries, as they were never mandated to keep a database of HFC consumption unlike the developed countries which have data, as most of them were mandated to report it to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change..

Even otherwise the developed countries have a good monitoring mechanism in place in general and have models on their own projections.

Some of the developed countries like Canada suggested the use of surveys and data at customs for estimation in the developing countries and that they could help in discussing the ways to go about it.

To break the impasse, New Zealand has developed a very basic tool which could help in getting a very rough estimate on the consumption data, so that developing countries with very little information could get an idea about their consumption.

Both Pakistan and Egypt have mentioned the concepts put forward by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in its proposal “Getting the world of chemical treadmill”.

The CSE proposal talks about having an equitable share based on per capita consumption. Pakistan suggested that as developed countries have already used the HFCs over their budget and has per capita emissions almost twice over the developing countries, so the past emissions should be compensated with a financial transfer.

China introduced a paper suggesting forming a committee in the Montreal Protocol, which can apply pressure on the international standards committee to relax the unusually high restrictive standards for natural refrigerants.

This proposal faced strict opposition from Saudi Arabia and USA, on the claims that natural refrigerants have flammability issues and that the independence of standards committee should not be compromised.

But during a side event conducted by the CSE, research presented by Daniel Colbourne, an expert on safety standards, clearly explained how lobbies from chemical companies in the standards committees have been making sure not to relax the unusually restrictive standards so as to not allow the usage of non-patented natural refrigerants like hydrocarbons.

His experiments and research prove that there is a need to update the archaic standard considering the improvement in technology and methodology in calculations.

Avipsa Mahapatra from the Environmental Investigation Agency supported the views of Colbourne on the need for smarter standards and codes for mainstreaming natural refrigerants.

In the same side event, Chandra Bhushan, the deputy director of CSE, also presented a new study on the existing state of natural refrigerants in India and its future projections.

He made a statement on how there is a potential to move 77 per cent of the refrigerants in different sectors to natural alternatives, which are non-patented proven technology and have ultra-low global warming potential and are not harmful to the environment.

The study was conducted to ascertain the current state of refrigerant use in the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector in India and the role natural refrigerants can play in the future.

The study clearly demonstrated how prioritising naturals will result in direct emissions, saving of 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2030. In our previous study we estimated a saving of 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by doubling of annual improvements in energy efficiency in just the stationary air conditioning sector.

India, on behalf of all the developing countries, introduced a paper in the conference asking Multilateral Fund (MLF) to prepare guidelines on overarching principles and timelines, incremental costs, energy efficiency, institutional strengthening and capacity-building to address safety.

India suggested that the draft guidelines developed by the executive committee of the MLF shall be presented to the parties for their views and inputs and that the guidelines shall be finalised by the executive committee only after incorporation of the views and input of the parties.

“In the past there were instances where the guidelines were developed by third party and implemented without consultation of the parties,” said Manoj Kumar Singh, chief negotiator of India as the reason for introducing this paper. It is expected to be discussed today.

Pakistan also submitted a paper suggesting to set the phase-down target for the production and consumption of HFCs at 50 per cent of the agreed baseline, and that, for developing countries, the phase down shall, after reaching this target, be reviewed with respect to the availability of financially viable and technically proven alternate technologies. The papers submitted by China, India and Pakistan papers are expected to be discussed further.

With the discussion turning on the comparison of the amendment proposals submitted by other parties, it is very timely that the CSE is organising a side event titled “What Kind of Amendment? Ideas for a framework to phase down HFC in an ambitious and equitable manner”.

During the event, there will be discussions on different proposals. Pros and cons will be discussed for finding a way forward to have the framework in an equitable manner.

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