Climate Action

EU calling for ambitious HFC amendment under the Montreal Protocol

Partial view of earth from space
22/09/2016

EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete's speech on tackling climate warming HFCs:

"It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the very systems we use for cooling are actually helping to heat up the planet.

Air conditioning and refrigeration equipment are pumping dangerous climate warming gases into the atmosphere. These manmade gases are thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide. So we need to take action and fast, because HFC emissions are rising strongly.

The good news is that there is something we can do about it. Not in the distant future. Not next year. Next month in Kigali, we can vote to shave off up to half a degree of warming by the end of the century. This is a quick and cost-effective way to deliver on the pre-2020 objectives of the Paris Agreement. And a strong signal that we are committed to real action.

With the adoption of the Dubai Pathway on HFCs last year, all Parties agreed that these substances are best addressed under the Montreal Protocol, building on its success in eliminating ozone depleting substances that were used in the same sectors. Parties have a clear mandate to reach an agreement. We are nearly there. However, the last stretch will require flexibility from all sides to reach an ambitious outcome. That means agreeing to an early freeze of consumption and production and a rapid reduction schedule for all parties.

Therefore, I am pleased to endorse the New York Declaration of the Coalition for an Ambitious HFC Amendment on behalf of the European Union, which adds political weight to the call for an outcome that substantially contributes to reaching our climate targets.

Developed countries are prepared to take the lead: starting with a first reduction step as early as 2019. The EU is already leading the world in restricting the use of HFCs and finding alternatives to them. We anticipated this commitment by adopting EU legislation, with a freeze in 2015 and a first reduction step this year. While recognising that developing countries need more time, it is important to agree on a start date as close as possible to 2020, to avoid HFC use growing at high speed.

We are working closely with our partners, in particular the US, Canada and Mexico, to facilitate the transition to climate friendly solutions to ozone depleting substances and HFCs. We are also a member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which is passing experience on alternatives to developing countries wishing to be front runners. In addition, the EU is providing substantial funding to support capacity building and training activities.

To implement the phase-down the donors to the Protocol's Multilateral Fund are prepared to provide sufficient additional financial resources to offset costs arising from agreed HFC obligations for developing countries. It is only right that the donors expect a level of ambition that ensures real benefits for the climate in return. I welcome today's declaration announcing additional funding to kick-start the implementation of the amendment. I know more countries would have liked to join but were not able with such a short notice, due to budgetary procedures.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Montreal Protocol is without doubt one of the most successful environmental agreements to date – and it has done wonders for the ozone layer. Now we need it to do wonders for the climate by bringing these dangerous gases within its scope. The meeting in Kigali gives us an opportunity to take the first concrete step together towards implementing the Paris Agreement. This is the most significant action we can take to tackle climate change this year. Let's follow the good progress we made in Vienna next month in Kigali by sending an early birthday gift for the Paris Agreement.

Thank you."

New York, 22 September 2016