Eu-prposalEUROPE: A new EU proposal to phase-down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol could have the potential to unlock negotiations, according to a leading green group.

The new proposal strengthens the phase-down schedule for non-Article 5 (developed) countries while requiring Article 5 (developing) countries to freeze the production of HFCs in 2019, with reduction steps to reach a long-term reduction target by 2040 to be agreed by 2020.

Significantly, for Article 5 countries, the EU proposal splits the allowances for production and consumption, taking into account allowances for HCFC production which the Article 5 countries have only just begun to phase-out.

On production, it calls for the baseline to be the average of HFC production in the years 2009 to 2012 plus 70% of average HCFC production in the years 2009 to 2012, expressed in CO2 equivalents. A freeze of HFC production in 2019 would be followed by a reduction to 15% by 2040, with the timetable of reduction steps to be agreed by 2020.

On consumption, the EU proposes the baseline to be the average HFC and HCFC consumption in the years 2015-2016, expressed in CO2 equivalents, a freeze of combined HCFC and HFC consumption by 2019 with a reduction schedule to be agreed by 2020.

The EU insists that the more flexible commitments are necessary for Article 5 countries to take into account the expected growth in the use of HCFCs and HFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning.

Leading role

The proposal takes a harder line on the phase-down schedule for non-Article 5, bringing it closer to Europe’s established F-gas regulation phase-down agreements. It calls on these major consumers to take the lead by ‘committing to an ambitious phase-down schedule for the production and consumption of HFCs’.

The proposal for non-Article 5 parties is to set the baseline on the average HFC production/consumption in the years 2009 to 2012 plus 45% of average HCFC production/consumption allowed under the Protocol in the years 2009 to 2012, expressed in CO2 equivalents. There would then be a reduction to 85% in 2019, 60% by 2023, 30% by 2028 to 15% in 2034.

Commenting on the proposal, Clare Perry, head of climate at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said: “The EU clearly expects developed countries to lead by example. The EU has upped the ante significantly and is now calling on other developed countries to match it.

“The EU proposal is trying to be sensitive to the fact that HFCs are generally used to replace ozone-depleting HCFCs, which developing countries have only just begun to phase-out under the Montreal Protocol,” said Perry.

“For this reason, HFCs cannot be considered in isolation and this is the first proposal to try and address that specifically within an HFC amendment proposal – as such, it has the potential to unlock negotiations.”

The EU proposal will be considered at the upcoming Open-Ended Working Group in Paris in July, and again at the Meeting of the Parties in Dubai in November.

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