From 4-8 April, in Geneva, Switzerland, the European Commission on behalf of the European Union will participate in ongoing negotiations for an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to include climate warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
HFCs are part of the family of fluorinated gases that have replaced certain ozone depleting substances used in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. This follows the successful efforts of the Montreal Protocol – the international agreement designed to reduce the production and consumption of gases damaging the Earth's ozone layer. While HFCs do not damage the ozone layer, they are potent greenhouse gases, with a global warming effect up to 15 000 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO₂), and their emissions are rising strongly.
EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "A global reduction in the use of HFCs will constitute a clear step forward in the fight against climate change. It is a quick and cost effective way of getting on track with the ambitious goals we set ourselves in Paris. This is why the EU is committed to working towards the adoption of an amendment to the Montreal Protocol this year."
The EU, as well as some other Parties to the Montreal Protocol, has proposed amending the Montreal Protocol to include HFCs and reduce their use and production globally. In 2015, in Dubai, Parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed to work towards an amendment in 2016. Progress must now be made to finalise this agreement. At this week's Montreal Protocol meeting, the EU wants to find solutions to the few remaining challenges. These include the concerns of countries with very hot climates where substitutes to HFCs are not always available.
The EU is flexible on the details of the amendment, providing the outcome is ambitious in reducing emissions in both developed and developing countries. The EU Member States remain committed to providing additional financial and technical support to developing countries to help them comply with any HFC obligations agreed under the Montreal Protocol.