India & Saudi Arabia block progress on near-term climate action at CoP19
WARSAW: As the annual international conference on climate change (CoP19) draws to a close in Warsaw today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) criticised India and Saudi Arabia for blocking an agreement which could prevent the release of up to 100 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2050.
Parties came to Warsaw looking to take near term action on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), super greenhouse gases hundreds to thousands of times more potent than CO2, but a decision that would have accelerated international cooperation under the Montreal Protocol on these chemicals was withdrawn at the last minute.
“Addressing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol would provide real results in the short term, with more than two billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions avoided by 2020,” said Danielle Gagne, HFC & Climate Policy Analyst with EIA. “Blocking action to phase out HFCs under the Protocol is a missed opportunity for near-term greenhouse gas mitigation; real action has been sacrificed for negotiating tactics.”
This year’s talks have highlighted a growing divide between poor developing countries that stand to lose the most from the lack of action on climate change, and countries that seem willing to hold up progress for tactical reasons. Progress has also been thrown off course by a series of controversies, including host country Poland’s vigorous support for coal-based power, an overwhelming corporate presence, and Australia and Japan announcing moves to dramatically scale back national policies to cut greenhouse gases.
“We’re appalled at the lack of concrete actions on the table”, said Natasha Hurley, Global Environment Campaigner with EIA. “We were expecting the tragedy in the Philippines to inject a sense of urgency into these talks, but instead it has been business as usual.
“A solution to the current deadlock hinges on countries’ ability to take concrete actions to address climate change now. Accelerating an agreement on a global phase-down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol would help build trust and a sense that the global climate talks really can deliver.”
1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.
2. Corporate ‘partners’ of this year’s climate conference included:
• Steel and mining giant Arcelor Mittal
• Alstom (energy solutions and transport)
• Polish oil company Grupa Lotos
• Polish energy company Polska Grupa Energetyczna
• Emirates Airways
• International Paper
3. Although the Montreal Protocol has been a success in terms of phasing out ozone depleting substances, it has also led to the ‘phase-in’ of a family of very potent greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Their contribution to climate forcing is still relatively small but expected to soar in the coming decades, with emissions predicted to reach 5.5-8.8 gigatonnes (Gts) of CO2-equivalent emissions (GtCO2e) per year in 2050, equivalent to 9-19 per cent of projected global CO2 emissions under a business-as-usual scenario.
Environmental Investigation Agency
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