Environment

EU rewarded for leadership in climate change deal

24/01/2018

The Kigali Amendment to the United Nations’ Montreal Protocol, which aims to cut back the global use of harmful hydrofluorocarbon gases (HFCs), comes into force in January 2019. The EU has received a 2017 Ozone Award for its leading role in negotiating this international agreement.

The Montreal Protocol to the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer is 30 years old. It was agreed in 1987 in response to scientific evidence of a dangerously expanding hole in the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer, caused by humanity’s growing use of ozone-depleting substances.

The Kigali Amendment is proof of the global resolve to tackle climate change.

Climate Change and Energy Commissioner,
Miguel Arias Cañete

As a result, the ozone layer is recovering and the Montreal Protocol has been acclaimed as an example of swift and effective international action to preserve the planet. Europe has already phased out the use of ozone-depleting substances, 10 years in advance of its Protocol commitments.

However, the continuing use of synthetic HFCs, for example in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, foams and aerosols, while not harmful to the ozone layer, has accelerated climate change. The global warming impact of HFCs is up to 15 000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and they are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, agreed by the 197 parties, adds HFCs to the list of controlled substances. The EU’s political leadership in reaching the deal, in October 2016, has earned it an Ozone Award, which recognises “extraordinary commitment” to the success of the Montreal Protocol.

“The Kigali Amendment is proof of the global resolve to tackle climate change and shows what we can achieve when we work together,” said EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete. “For Europe, implementation of our commitment will not only help us to meet our climate objectives but will also create new opportunities for European manufacturers of air-conditioning and refrigerants.”

Reducing HFCs

The legally binding Amendment obliges developed countries to start cutting back their HFC production and consumption in 2019, with less-developed states following in the medium term. In the EU, HFC emissions have already fallen for the first time in almost 15 years. The UN Environment Agency estimates that the measure could reduce global temperature increases by up to 0.5 °C by the end of the century, helping to achieve the Paris Agreement target of keeping the rise below 2 °C.

More than 20 Parties, including several Member States, have already ratified the Kigali Amendment, passing the threshold for its entry into force.

The EU is leading global efforts to limit emissions of HFCs and other fluorinated greenhouse gases. The European Commission has been progressively reducing industry quotas for the use of HFCs. The overall 2018 allocation is just 63 % of the 2015 total. By 2030, the EU regulation on fluorinated gases (F-gases) aims to cut usage by two-thirds.

Climate action