UN nations agreed in Dubai in the wee hours of Friday morning to develop a plan next year to phase-out HFC emissions, a move observers say can prevent emissions of upwards of 100 billion tonnes of CO2e by mid-century.
The latest round of talks under the Montreal Protocol failed to hammer out the details of the phase-out, but concluded with a commitment to use the treaty to end emissions of the dangerous greenhouse gas.
“The progress in Dubai also indicates that the world is ready for a new chapter in the fight against climate change. In agreeing to address HFCs together, we have laid the groundwork for even greater co-operation toward a successful outcome in Paris – and the entire planet will be better off for it,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Many parties including the US, Mexico, Canada, island states, and the 54 countries of the Africa Group wanted to move faster with the details this week, but Gulf States and India demanded delay on details until after COP 21 in Paris next month, raising a red flag about their tactics in Paris,” Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, wrote in a blog for the Huffington Post.
A group of mainly poorer countries had previously deemed the Kyoto Protocol to be the appropriate forum due to its focus on climate warming gases, compared to the Montreal treaty, which has historically been aimed at curbing substances that damage the ozone layer.
Several proposals have been submitted earlier this year on a schedule for the phase-out, including one from the North American nations that would bind developed countries to cut their HFC emissions 85% by 2036, and developing nations by 2046.
But a timetable along with issues such as ensuring access to finance and technology, as well as intellectual property rights, will now have to be worked out next year.
A series of meetings will be held throughout 2016, including an extraordinary meeting of the parties.
“The parties now need to roll their sleeves up, thrash out the details as early as possible and remind us why the Montreal Protocol is often referred to as the world’s most successful environmental treaty,” said EIA climate campaign team leader Clare Perry.
During the talks, a handful of governments including India and some Gulf nations put up a fight on key issues, while developed countries offered a number of concessions, in particular on the need for developing nations to have flexibility in the implementation of a phase-down agreement and the need for exemptions in hotter countries.
However, thorny issues such as technology transfer and intellectual property rights still need to be sorted out before a final agreement is reached.
By Stian Reklev and Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org