By Avipsa Mahapatra, EIA Climate Campaign Lead
Parties to the Montreal Protocol met in Bangkok this week in an Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) for the first time since October 2016, where all countries of the world together agreed to phase down super greenhouse gases, HFCs, under the Kigali Amendment. The Kigali Amendment, if implemented successfully, could avoid emissions of over 70 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) by 2050. Over the past week, Parties began work to figure out the critical elements needed to implement the Amendment.
Three key issues stood out among the number of topics under discussion:
- Updating safety standards: Obsolete safety standards have been a barrier to market uptake of climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs in the cooling sector. A full day at the OEWG was devoted to unpacking the challenges in modernizing and harmonizing the different standards that apply to this sector across different geographies, as well as broader stakeholder participation, while ensuring human safety is not compromised.
- Integrating energy efficiency: Energy efficiency was the key word in this week’s meeting. Two separate Conference Room Papers (CRPs) were presented, (from India and other Group 2 countries, as well as one from the African Group) asking for additional specific work on how refrigerant transition would be accompanied by concurrent energy efficiency gains. These proposals received near universal support from all A5 parties. Donor countries showed openness to discussing the scope of energy efficiency in this body and all sides agreed on having a focused workshop to further flesh it out.
- Replenishment: How much money will be available and what exactly will it be available for, for developing countries (A5 parties) to carry out activities related to the HCFC phase out (precursors to HFCs) was a key negotiating issue. A robust replenishment will be critical to assuring developing countries that they’ll have adequate resources to plan for and implement the Kigali Amendment. This is particularly significant as Parties endeavour to ratify the amendment back home.
Other conversations included reporting data and destruction of HFCs, which will be continued at the next meeting. This week was preceded by the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund, where important guidance work was completed regarding cost guidelines, enabling activities, and a study on the most cost effective ways to destroy HFC-23, a super potent by-product of HCFC-22 production, with a GWP 14,800 times that of carbon dioxide.
The next time Parties will meet will be in Montreal this coming November, when the Protocol will also be celebrating its 30th Anniversary. If we have learned anything from the last 30 years of success of the Montreal Protocol, it is that a global agreement, regardless of how well intended, cannot meet its full potential unless it is accompanied by robust implementation. Well begun is half done!
A breakdown of some of the discussions at the 39th Open Ended Working Group, with particular regard to standards