The European Union on Thursday submitted its own a proposal to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol, as momentum builds amongst countries seeking to curb global production and consumption of these super greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning.
“This would send an important signal ahead of the international climate negotiations in Paris later this year where we will adopt a new deal that will steer the world towards a more sustainable pathway,” said EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete.
Under the proposal, industrialised countries would use a baseline calculated from average HFC production and consumption levels between 2009 and 2012, and reduce that by 15% by 2019, 40% by 2023, 70% by 2028, and 85% by 2034.
Developing countries would face more flexible rules, using baselines calculated from their average HFC production in 2009-2012 and their average HFC consumption in 2015-2016 and freezing those levels by 2019 and reducing the production by 85% by 2040.
A timeline for slashing consumption levels would be agreed by 2020.
The EU estimates global cumulative reductions in all countries under its plan would amount to 127 billion tonnes of CO2e over 40 years.
The 28-nation bloc last year passed a law to cut HFC use by 79% below average 2009-2012 levels by 2030.
The European Commission late last year allocated quotas to existing companies and new entrants allowing them to sell HFCs in the EU in 2015, as the first step of the phase-down mandated under the legislation.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
The G20 has also agreed to cooperate in reducing their use of the gas.
“The EU clearly expects developed countries to lead by example,” said Clare Perry of campaigners the Environmental Investigation Agency.
“The EU has upped the ante significantly and is now calling on other developed countries to match it.”
The EU proposal, along with others, will be considered at upcoming Montreal Protocol talks in Paris in July, and then at a summit in Dubai in November.
The bloc’s plan follows proposals submitted since 2009 by the US, Canada, Mexico, Micronesia and India.
India, the world’s third biggest GHG emitter, several weeks ago raised eyebrows with its own proposal, reversing its previous stance of refusing to negotiate the issue under the Montreal Protocol.
The offer was supported by parties including a group of African nations, but it and other proposals have drawn opposition from the likes of Pakistan, Saudia Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations
Under India’s plan, developing nations are calling for full compensation for efforts, access to technology and intellectual property rights, and for any abatement in around 150 developing countries including top emitter China to begin 16 years from now.
The Montreal Protocol, which sought alternatives to ozone-depleting CFCs, has led to a massive expansion of the HFC industry, prompting countries to slowly turn their focus those highly-potent greenhouse gases.
“The EU proposal is trying to be sensitive to the fact that HFCs are generally used to replace ozone-depleting HCFCs, which developing countries have only just begun to phase-out under the Montreal Protocol,” said Perry.
“For this reason, HFCs cannot be considered in isolation and this is the first proposal to try and address that specifically within an HFC amendment proposal – as such, it has the potential to unlock negotiations.”
The UN estimates that the transition away from HFCs could cost poorer countries more than $3 billion – well above the roughly $500 million pledged so far by the developed world.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org