197 parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer laid the groundwork for an amendment to the protocol in 2016 to phase down the heat-trapping hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), during their meetings held in Vienna, Austria from 15 to 23 July.
HFCs are used in air conditioning, refrigeration, foams and aerosols as replacement for many ozone-depleting substances. An agreement to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol would avoid an estimated 105 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050, and up to 0.4°C of global warming by the end of the century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.
An HFC amendment in 2016 would be a significant contribution to meeting the goals of last year’s Paris Agreement, which binds countries to limiting the rise in global temperature by 2100 to 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
“It’s such good news that we are all committed to phasing down HFCs, working on the positive premise that we can and will find a way to resolve the remaining challenges,” said UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Environment Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw.
“It is no accident that the Montreal Protocol is quoted again and again as an example of what can be achieved when 197 parties set their minds to it. With such a powerful tool at our disposal, the choice before us is alarmingly simple: we can choose to save our children or not.”
Also attending the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that countries were well on the way to achieving a very big win in the fight against climate change.
“By adopting an amendment to phase down the use of HFCs, we can honor the legacy of our predecessors, we can move closer to the goals we set in Paris, and – more importantly – we can help protect the future of the only planet that we have,” he said.
The Third Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties, held 22 – 23 July and attended by 35 environment ministers from all over the world endorsed a range of solutions to the important challenges identified under the ‘Dubai Pathway on HFCs’, which requires the parties to work towards an HFC amendment in 2016.
The endorsed solutions will serve as a basis for further discussions during the 28th Meeting of the Parties (MOP28) to be held in October in Kigali, Rwanda.
As a basis for the further discussion, the Extraordinary Meeting also endorsed proposals on baselines for phasing down HFC production and consumption and potential dates of freezing HFC use by developed and developing countries.