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World edges towards HFC agreement

The UNESCO hq in Paris – the venue for this weeks Montreal Protocol meetings ©UNESCO/Michel Ravassard

FRANCE: The international community has moved a step closer to a deal on controlling HFCs at the Montreal Protocol meeting this week.

Despite continued resistance from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Pakistan, the softening of the former positions taken by China and now India to discussing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol is seen as a move in the right direction.

With India today calling for a political consensus on the issue, it asked the UN to convene a special session of the Montreal Protocol to address concerns of the developing nations.

“There has been a clear shift in attitudes”, said Clare Perry, head of climate at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

 “We are not seeing the same knee-jerk refusal to discuss HFCs that has held talks up in the past. The vast majority of the world’s countries, including all the key HFC-producing states, have accepted the need to do something about HFCs. This meeting has witnessed the start of a process which will continue next year, with a definitive agreement ahead of the Paris 2015 climate meeting a real possibility.”

 A new plan put forward by the European Union helped to inject renewed vigour into HFC talks. Developing countries expressed interest in the new approach, which builds on proposals to phase down HFCs tabled by the North American states and Micronesia since 2009.

The EU plan to bring HFCs within the Montreal Protocol calls on the developed nations, as major consumers of HFCs, to take the lead.  The EU calls for an ambitious phase-down schedule for non Article 5 developed countries beginning in  2017 with a freeze of HFC production for Article 5 countries beginning in 2019, and a longer-term reduction target. It also calls for a freeze of the combined HCFC and HFC consumption in Article 5 countries on the basis of the combined climate impacts of HCFC and HFC beginning in 2019.

The longer-term phase-down of the combined consumption of these chemicals in Article 5 countries would be agreed in the coming years.

The EU’s new climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, announced today that the EU is considering submitting a formal proposal to amend the Montreal Protocol in 2015, ahead of talks to agree a global climate deal at CoP21 in Paris.

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