The European Commission has welcomed the significant progress made in Vienna towards agreeing an amendment to the Montreal Protocol this October for a global reduction in the use of climate-warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The 196 Parties of the Montreal Protocol, who met from 15-23 July, agreed the key elements of the amendment proposal.
EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "This is great news. Limiting the use of HFCs could prevent 0.5°C global warming by 2100, and is a concrete step towards implementing the Paris Agreement. I am also very happy that the European Union and other partners that participated in the High Ambition Coalition have played an instrumental role. Let’s not lose sight of our goal and seal the deal in Kigali this October. We cannot afford to lose this opportunity to make an important dent in global emissions."
Commissioner Arias Cañete, who was in Vienna for the negotiations, met with fellow ministers who helped lead the High Ambition Coalition in Paris, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to push for an ambitious amendment.
The EU and other major economies proposed to start phasing-down their use of HFCs in 2019, while a coalition of some 120 developing countries proposed to start freezing their use of HFCs in 2021. Donor countries also agreed the key mechanisms for providing financial assistance to developing countries to support their phase-down schedule. Parties also agreed on how to treat sectors where alternative refrigerants to HFCs are not available, overcoming a major obstacle to negotiations.
HFCs are fluorinated gases that have replaced certain ozone depleting substances used in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. 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.