Small steps towards a giant leap! Parties to the Montreal Protocol continue discussions on HFCs

Last week saw another step towards a global agreement on the phase down of ozone depleting substances, the event started with a buzz around the new amendment proposals to the Montreal Protocol.
Last week saw another step towards a global agreement on the phase down of ozone depleting substances at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok. The event started with a buzz around the new amendment proposals to the Montreal Protocol.



The week began with the Workshop from 20-21 April 2015 on Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) Management and possible replacement solutions in their various uses, followed by the Thirty-fifth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG 35) of the parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, from 22-24 April 2015, which focused on HFC management. This event gathered over 350 delegates representing governments, UN agencies, groups and committees of experts on the Montreal Protocol, non-governmental organizations and the industrial sector…



Didier Coulomb, IIR Director, attended both these events as an Intergovernmental Organization representative.



The back-to-back Workshop (see below) and OEWG 35 were mandated to continue discussions on all issues related to HFC management, including an emphasis on high-ambient temperature and safety requirements, as well as energy efficiency.



The workshop focused on technical aspects of HFC management. Its conclusions were presented to OEWG 35 for further consideration and discussion by the Parties.



OEWG 35 opened on 22 April for focused discussions on HFCs. Delegates received an overview of the abundance, trends and projections of HFCs in the atmosphere and their implications; and an overview of HFC production, consumption patterns and trends.



The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) received two amendments sent by North America (USA, Canada, Mexico) and by India. The North American proposal, similar to previous ones, showed a willingness for compromise while the Indian one proposed a 2030 start for HFC phase down in Article 5 countries (developing countries).



Other highlights included a draft proposal submitted by African states on processes to regulate HFC production and consumption, and EU willingness to submit another amendment proposal by the end of April 2015.



OEWG 35 ended the day with a debate regarding potential synergies with the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), followed by an initial discussion on possible policy objectives for any HFC management policy and legal framework under the Montreal Protocol.



On Thursday, 23 April, OEWG 35 spent most of the day debating previously mentioned key issues for discussions towards a possible HFC management policy and legal framework under the Montreal Protocol, including: phase-down, taking into account hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) phase-out; means to address sector- and country-specific challenges; strengthening existing means of implementation; and capacity-building, technology transfer, funding requirements and financial mechanism.



Senegal and Zimbabwe, on behalf of the Africa Group, submitted a conference room paper (CRP) which called for the creation of a contact group to consider proposals to amend the Montreal Protocol and suggested specific issues that should be considered by such a group.



Several countries (Arabic countries, Pakistan, Indonesia, some Latin American countries) showed reluctance to detailed discussion of the amendments presented since they felt that further reflection was needed. No agreement was made to create a formal contact group.



On the final day, informal discussions led to an agreement to continue work intersessionally before the next meeting in July 2015 in Paris, in an informal manner to study the feasibility and ways of managing HFCs, including challenges set out in an annex, with a view to the establishment of a contact group.


Although no concrete result was obtained, and more in depth talks are necessary, for the first time all the countries agreed to converse. It is very likely that if the parallel negotiations on climate change, to conclude in December in Paris, are successful, a decision to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol in 2016 will be conceivable.



More about the workshop



Each workshop session, six in all, was opened by a brief presentation; during the first day the three sessions covered were:



  1. “Challenges and opportunities in addressing high global warming potential (GWP) HFCs in the refrigeration sector”
  2. “Challenges and opportunities in addressing high-GWP HFCs in the stationary air-conditioning and heat pump sector”
  3. “Challenges and opportunities in addressing high-GWP HFCs in mobile air-conditioning”



Sessions were followed by feedback and discussion by a panel of technology stakeholders, with questions from the audience, including inputs from an online board for posting questions.



Cited during the workshop were the different barriers to low GWP refrigerants stemming from standards and costs as well as the need for training, safety awareness, and energy efficiency.



Equally important to participants were domestic legislation, industry initiatives, and accessibility to low-GWP alternatives to HFCs in Article 5 countries.



The second day of the workshop also presented three sessions covering the following topics:



  1. "Challenges and opportunities in addressing high-GWP HFCs in the foam sector"
  2. Part 1, "Costs of conversion, intellectual property rights, accessibility to low-GWP alternatives and timeline of availability for new technologies"

Part 2, "Energy efficiency, safety, industry’s response to low-GWP policies"

  1. "Key conclusions relevant to policymaking on technical management of HFCs"




Among the points highlighted during this second day were the capabilities of industry to provide much needed low-GWP solutions and technologies; regulatory certainty is required in order to accelerate investment and the move to low GWP.

Select the links below for more information on the subject