Bangkok, 24 April 2015 – Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer discussed potential ways of reducing the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) during their thirty-fifth Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) meeting, dedicated to discussing HFCs, from 22 to 24 April in Bangkok, Thailand.
Following extensive discussions, the parties agreed to continue working intersessionally in the coming months to study the feasibility and ways of managing HFCs, including addressing related challenges, with a view to establishing a formal contact group at the thirty-sixth OEWG meeting scheduled for 20 to 24 July in Paris to further explore the issue.
The challenges to be addressed include energy efficiency, funding requirements, the availability of alternative technologies, safety of substitutes, performance and challenges in high-ambient temperatures, capacity-building, technology transfer, among other issues related to HFC management.
HFCs are man-made fluorinated chemicals that do not deplete the ozone layer but are potent greenhouse gases and many of them have high global-warming-potential. HFCs are used in the air conditioning, refrigeration, foam and aerosol sectors as replacements for many ozonedepleting substances, including chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), halons and hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs) being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.
India recently submitted a proposal to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs, and Canada, Mexico and the United States have jointly submitted their revised amendment proposal as well. During the meeting, other parties expressed their plans to submit amendment proposals in the coming days. All the amendment proposals will be considered during the 27th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in November in Dubai.
The parties discussed a proposal on a process for regulating the production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, which was submitted by Zimbabwe and Senegal on behalf of African states, following the declaration by African environment ministers during the 15th Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment held in Cairo in March.
The parties also exchanged information on key issues for discussion towards a possible HFC management policy and legal framework under the Montreal Protocol, including: phase-down, taking into account 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.
The 35th OEWG meeting was preceded by a two-day workshop on HFC management, during which more than 400 participants – Montreal Protocol parties, experts in the field and industry representatives – held in-depth discussions on all technical aspects related to HFC management, including a focus on high-ambient temperature and safety requirements as well as energy efficiency.
The workshop enabled participants to gain deeper insight into the status of the availability and challenges of low-global-warming-potential HFC alternatives, especially in refrigeration and air conditioning market sectors and sub-sectors.
The participants discussed challenges and opportunities in the areas of energy efficiency, costs and intellectual property rights, safety and flammability, high-ambient temperature, policy and regulatory frameworks and service sector training needs, as well as special challenges facing developing countries.
The Scientific Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol provided an overview of the abundance, trends and projection of HFCs in the atmosphere, noting that while levels of HFCs are currently low, they are projected to become relatively high by 2050, by which time they could represent 25 per cent of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions.
The Technology and Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol noted that projections in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector show rapidly growing demand in developing countries between 2015 and 2030, which will have a substantial and further increasing climate impact.
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