The OEWG 38: dedicated to the phase down of hydrofluorocarbons

The IIR reports back from the 38th Open-Ended Working Group meeting in Vienna
How will the progress made during the OEWG 38 meeting impact the refrigeration industry?

The 38th meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG 38) Parties to the Montreal Protocol took place in Vienna (Austria) in July 2016.

The meeting was exceptionally long (8 days, Friday July 15 until Saturday July 23) and divided into several segments, all dedicated to the phase down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs): resumed 37th meeting of the OEWG, 38th OEWG, 3rd exceptional meeting.

A common determination shared by all

All countries recognized the negative impact of HFCs on the climate, as potent greenhouse gases, and as such, the need to address this issue within the Montreal Protocol, following the decision in Dubai (November 2015) and the first discussions in Geneva (April 2016).

There was a common determination shared by all countries to obtain an international agreement as soon as possible, with hopes pinned on doing so during the next Montreal Protocol meeting in Kigali (Rwanda) in October 2016.

Some representatives stressed the need to confirm the link with the climate change negotiations and the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), due to the energy consumption of refrigeration and air conditioning systems, as well as the fact that HFCs are in the basket of greenhouse gases recognised by the Rio convention.

Apart from a formal consequence (the results of the negotiations to be presented during a climate change meeting of the UNFCCC, hopefully in Marrakech in November 2016), it could have an impact on the funds dedicated to the phase down of HFCs.

Additional financing to the conventional replenishment of the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol dedicated to developing countries was requested; perhaps partially from the climate change funds.

Key influential representatives attended this high profile international meeting: John Kerry, Secretary of State (USA), the Director General of UNIDO, the Deputy Director General of UNEP…

Countries express and define their positions

Financing was a key issue. Baseline, consumption and production freeze dates of HFCs, as well as phase down schedules for A5 countries (developing countries) on the one hand and for A2 countries (developed countries) on the other hand was another issue, with three positions:

  • position of developed countries, which reached an agreement between them (European Union, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland): for A2 countries, baseline 2011-2013 (100% HFCs +25% HCFCs); reduction from 2019 (90%) until 2036 (15%); for A5 countries, baseline 2016 -2018 (100% HFCs +25% HCFCs), freeze in 2021 and reduction between 2026 (85%) and 2046 (15%). This proposal replaced the EU and North American initial amendments proposals.
  • position of India and other countries such as Pakistan, Gulf countries…: little to no reduction of HFC consumption before 2030 for A5 countries.
  • position of African countries, Pacific Islands and some Latin American countries: phase down of HFCs for A5 countries as from 2021 provided that enough funds are obtained for them.

Countries like China are in an intermediary position.

Baselines and phase down schedules are based on CO2 equivalent.

Other matters addressed

Other issues, such as standardization needs and the cost of patents were also discussed.

The opening up of discussions for flexible advancements

Negotiations allowed countries to specify their respective standpoints and showed flexibility in these positions. However, there was still a major gap in the phase down schedule of A5 countries between developed and some developing countries positions on the one hand, and other developing countries positions on the other hand.

On this occasion, a meeting of the minds on a general agreement was not achieved and the other matters addressed (funds…) are linked to the phase down schedule issue.

Will the next step of negotiations in Kigali be the final one? The Director General of the IIR, Didier Coulomb, will attend that meeting as he attended the meeting in Vienna to keep you informed on the matters that are most likely to affect you, your work and the refrigeration sector now and in the future.