African group spurs progress towards global HFCs agreement
BANGKOK: Unprecedented global attention on super greenhouse gases – hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs – resulted in agreement on a way forward under the Montreal Protocol this week.
At the five-day meeting in Bangkok, the African group emerged as a strong voice in support of tackling HFCs, overcoming resistance by a minority of countries.
There were high expectations at the start of the meeting after India, previously one of the strongest opponents, submitted its own HFC phase-down amendment proposal. This proposal, in combination with those filed previously by the North American countries and Micronesia and the efforts of the African group, brought new energy to the negotiations, with the vast majority of developing and developed countries in favour of a phase-down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.
Strong opposition from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, however, quickly showed that there remain serious obstacles.
“The efforts of India and Senegal, and the leadership of the African group in moving negotiations forward, provide hope that all countries can come to a swift agreement to take fast action on HFCs,” said Clare Perry, Head of Climate for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
A two-day technical workshop followed by a three-day political meeting was dedicated to the issue of managing HFCs.
“This meeting is a first but crucial step in ensuring that the Montreal Protocol doesn’t restore the ozone layer at the expense of the global climate,” said Mark W. Roberts, EIA International Policy Advisor. “Decisive action on HFCs will mitigate 100 billion tonnes of CO2e and deliver massive energy efficiency gains, catalysing strong climate benefits.”
Parties agreed to continue inter-sessional work on HFCs with a view to establishing a contact group at the next OEWG meeting in Paris in July. The explicit mention of ‘contact group’ is significant as it indicates formal negotiations will start this year.
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- The 35th meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG35) of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was held in Bangkok, Thailand this week.
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