HFC phase-down at the heart of discussions in Montreal

The 31st meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG 31) of the parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer convened in Montreal, Canada, from August 1-5, 2011.
During this meeting, the two proposals of amendments to the Montreal Protocol to include HFCs, already presented in 2010, were discussed again.
. The proposal presented by US, Canada and Mexico has been revised to take into consideration some comments that had been received from other parties. Baselines have been adjusted and HFC-23 by product emissions that were not covered by the Clean Development Mechanism have been added. Trade, the implementation of licensing systems and reporting requirements have also been addressed.
The proposal includes a gradual phase-down of production and consumption of 20 HFCs – including 2 HFOs (R-1234yf and R-1234ze(E) – with a plateau. It uses weighting by Global Warming Potential (GWP) for HCFCs and HFCs.
For developed countries, the phase-down starts in 2015 (consumption limited to 90% of the baseline) and ends in 2033 (consumption limited to 15% of the same baseline, corresponding to the plateau). The baseline is determined from a combination of HFC plus 85% of HCFC consumption and production respectively averaged over years 2005-2008.
For developing countries, the phase-down starts in 2021 (consumption limited to 80% of the baseline) – with a freeze starting in 2017 – until 2043 (15% of the baseline). The baseline is calculated based on HCFC consumption and production respectively averaged over years 2005-2008, recognizing that there are HFC data limitations in some countries.
. The proposal presented by the Federated States of Micronesia is similar but with a different schedule (2014-2031 for developed countries and 2020-2037 for developing countries), a lower plateau (10%) and different baselines (based on HCFC and HFC production and consumption date from 2004-2006 for developed countries and based on HCFC production and consumption from 2007-2009 for developing countries).
The climate benefits expected in terms of CO2 emissions avoided are 98 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2eq) through 2050 for the US-Canada-Mexico proposal and 100 billion MMTCO2eq for the Micronesian proposal.
Even if there was no consensus on discussing the proposals further in a formal contact group during the meeting, it was agreed to discuss proposals in plenary session and to concentrate on five particular elements: the baselines and the scope of the amendment proposals; the phase-down schedules for parties; the availability of alternatives, which would affect those schedules; technical and financial assistance aspects; control of by-products from HCFC-22 production; legal issues and the relationship with the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Several parties, especially China, India and Brazil continued to express opposition to the amendments proposed and raised concerns regarding the legal issues involved in the relationships between the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols arguing that HFCs were not ozone-depleting substances. 
Discussion of the proposed amendments will resume at MOP23 in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2011.

UNEP draft reports of OEWG31 : http://conf.montreal-protocol.org/meeting/31st/draft-reports/default.aspx
IISD report: http://www.iisd.ca/vol19/enb1980e.html
US-Canada-Mexico proposal: http://conf.montreal-protocol.org/meeting/31st/pre-session-documents/PreSession%20Documents/OEWG-31-5E.pdf
Micronesian proposal: http://conf.montreal-protocol.org/meeting/31st/pre-session-documents/PreSession%20Documents/OEWG-31-4E.pdf