Countries edge towards global agreement on super greenhouse gases as obstacles melt
PARIS: The international community has moved a step closer to a deal on eliminating hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) at a meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Paris this week.
Despite coordinated resistance from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, other countries which formerly opposed formal discussions on measures to curb HFCs displayed a markedly more constructive attitude, with India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar publicly acknowledging the need for action.
“There has been a clear shift in attitudes”, said Clare Perry, Head of Climate at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
“We are not seeing the same knee-jerk refusal to discuss HFCs that has held talks up in the past. The vast majority of the world’s countries, including all the key HFC-producing states, have accepted the need to do something about HFCs. This meeting has witnessed the start of a process which will continue next year, with a definitive agreement ahead of the Paris 2015 climate meeting a real possibility.”
A new plan put forward by the European Union helped to inject renewed vigour into HFC talks. Developing countries expressed interest in the new approach, which builds on proposals to phase down HFCs tabled by the North American states and Micronesia since 2009.
On Friday, the European Union’s new Climate Commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, announced that the EU is considering submitting a formal proposal to amend the Montreal Protocol in 2015, ahead of talks to agree a global climate deal at CoP21 in Paris.
“The European Union has to step up to the plate” said EIA Climate Campaigner Natasha Hurley. “Developing countries will need reassurances on finance and technology before signing up to a deal on HFCs. With world-leading legislation on HFCs in the shape of its F-Gas Regulation, the EU is uniquely positioned to provide guidance to developing countries and market opportunities for innovative technology.
“This can be a win-win situation for developed and developing countries alike.”
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 “Enabling a global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons: discussion paper submitted by the European Union” UNEP/OzL.Pro/26/INF/7 available at http://conf.montreal-protocol.org/meeting/mop/cop10-mop26/presession/default.aspx