The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a landmark international agreement to phase down the production and use of HFCs, entered into force on 1 January 2019. But two thirds of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol are yet to ratify the text – including the USA and China, two of the largest producers and consumers of HFCs.
HFCs are widely seen as the world’s fastest-growing climate pollutant and are used in air conditioners and refrigerators. Kigali sees developed countries take the lead on phasing down these potent greenhouse gases, starting with a 10 percent reduction this year and delivering an 85 percent cut in 2036 (compared to the 2011-2013 baselines).
“Cutting the use of these gases could avoid up to 0.4°C of global warming by the end of the century,” said Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of UN Environment.
As of 1 January, just 65 countries among the 197 Parties to the Montreal Protocol had ratified the Kigali Amendment. Yet Msuya chose to strike an upbeat tone.
“We can afford to have some optimism about this agreement. After all, the Montreal Protocol is the treaty that saved our ozone layer,” Msuya said.
Clear market signal
The entry into force of the Kigali deal establishes a clear HFC phase-down schedule, giving a strong message to the HVAC&R sector to provide the technology solutions – including natural refrigerant-based equipment – that will deliver the Kigali targets.
“With the Kigali Amendment, we have a real chance to take a big bite out of climate change,” said Tina Birmpili, executive secretary, Ozone Secretariat, UN Environment Programme.
Dubbing the amendment “the New Year’s Resolution that we must not break,” Birmpili drew attention to the practical steps that some Montreal Protocol parties had already taken to implement it.
With funding from the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, parties are building their capacity, strengthening institutions and developing national strategies to ensure we tackle HFCs quickly and decisively,” Birmpili said.
“This preparatory activity gives us hope that we can succeed, as does the Montreal Protocol’s record at keeping its resolutions,” she added.
More time for developing countries
Developing countries have a more generous HFC phase-down schedule. The Kigali Amendment splits them into two groups. The first one – which includes China and African nations – will freeze consumption of HFCs by 2024, with their first reduction steps starting in 2029.
A second group including India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the Gulf countries will meet a later deadline, freezing their use of these gases in 2028 and reducing consumption from 2032.― HYDROCARBONS21