Leaders from over 100 countries are calling for ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs, even as donors announce intent to provide $80 million of support
The United States on Thursday hosted a gathering of countries in New York to provide a boost of momentum to the upcoming international negotiations to adopt an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The event highlighted two significant announcements.
First, more than 100 countries called for securing an ambitious amendment with an “early freeze date.” This group includes the United States, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, all 28 countries in the European Union, all 54 countries in Africa, and several island states that are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Complementing this announcement, more than 500 companies and organisations and hundreds of sub-national governments called upon world leaders to take strong action on HFCs.
Second, a group of donor countries and philanthropists announced their intent to provide $80 million in support to help countries in need of assistance (i.e., Article 5 countries) implement an ambitious amendment and improve energy efficiency. The philanthropic component of this is the largest-ever private grant made for energy efficiency in this sector.
HFCs are factory-made chemicals that are primarily used in air conditioning, refrigeration, and foam insulation, and they can be hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change. If left unchecked, global HFC emissions could grow to be equivalent to 19 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions in 2050. There are alternative refrigerants available that have comparable performance to HFCs but with significantly reduced climate-changing properties.
Securing an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs could avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century, making a major contribution to the Paris Agreement goal to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C. Countries agreed last November to “work within the Montreal Protocol to an HFC amendment in 2016,” and they have subsequently worked intensively during a series of negotiations this year toward consensus on the terms of such an amendment. Next month, countries will gather at the Montreal Protocol Meeting of the Parties in Rwanda for final negotiations on the amendment.
Launch of the Coalition to Secure an Ambitious HFC Amendment
At an event hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, senior government officials representing over 100 governments released the “New York Declaration of the Coalition to Secure an Ambitious HFC Amendment.” The declaration calls for adopting an ambitious HFC phasedown amendment at the upcoming Meeting of the Parties with an early freeze date for Article 5 countries, in addition to an early first reduction step for non-Article 5 countries.
In addition to the broad support for an ambitious amendment overall, the commitment for an “early freeze date” is a key element for achieving a strong climate outcome. The freeze date is the year when countries stop increasing the production and consumption of HFCs and begin the process of phasing them down, and it is therefore critical to achieving the emissions reductions associated with an amendment.
New Finance Announcements
In tandem with the declaration for an ambitious amendment, a group of donor countries and philanthropists announced their intent to provide $80 million in assistance to Article 5 countries to implement an amendment and improve energy efficiency.
A group of 16 donor countries – consisting of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and New Zealand – announced their intent to provide $27 million in 2017 to the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund to provide fast-start support for implementation if an ambitious amendment with a sufficient early freeze date is adopted this year. Such funding is one-time in nature and will not displace donor contributions going forward.
Complementing the funding announced by donor countries on Thursday, the following group of 19 philanthropists announced their intent to provide $53 million to Article 5 countries to support improvements in energy efficiency: Barr Foundation; Bill Gates; Children’s Investment Fund Foundation; ClimateWorks Foundation; David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Heising-Simons Foundation; Hewlett Foundation; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Josh and Anita Bekenstein; John and Ann Doerr; Laura and John Arnold; Oak Foundation; Open Philanthropy Project; Pirojsha Godrej Foundation; Pisces Foundation; Sandler Foundation; Sea Change Foundation; Tom Steyer; and Wyss Foundation. This support reflects a strong recognition from private philanthropists of the dual benefits associated with taking advantage of the transition to HFC alternatives to also improve energy efficiency.
Together, this funding will enable Article 5 countries to begin developing programs to track and reduce HFCs and help their consumers and businesses realise the net economic benefits from energy efficiency as they transition to HFC alternatives. Thursday’s announcement from philanthropists represents the single largest private grant ever made in this sector for energy efficiency. Based on experience in the United States, this scale of investment could yield billions of dollars in economic benefits for Article 5 countries and help to offset any upfront costs associated with transitioning past HFCs.
Demonstrating that in addition to galvanizing support for an ambitious amendment and providing new resources, the United States is also committed to addressing technical questions associated with phasing down HFCs, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday published the results of a testing programme to evaluate the performance of HFC alternatives in rooftop air conditioning units in high ambient temperatures. The testing programme was launched in response to questions over whether HFC alternatives can perform well in hot and extremely hot temperatures.
The results demonstrate that several viable replacements exist for both HCFC-22 and HFC-410A – two of the most common refrigerants used today – and that these potential replacements perform just as well at high temperatures as today’s refrigerants. The testing programme was conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and guided by a panel of prominent technical experts from Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Peru, Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). The new report can be found here.
Last year, ORNL conducted a similar testing programme for mini-split air conditioning units. The results of that testing programme can be found here.
Call to Action from Companies and Sub-National Governments
Building on the announcements in New York on Thursday, more than 500 national and international companies and organisations and hundreds of sub-national governments are also calling – individually and/or through their associations – for an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol and have issued the following statement:
By avoiding up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century, a Montreal Protocol hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phasedown amendment is one of the most significant steps the world can take now to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement. Today, we call upon world leaders to adopt in October an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol, including an early first reduction step for Article 2 countries and a freeze date for Article 5 countries that is as early as practicable, and we declare our intent to work to reduce the use and emissions of high-global-warming-potential HFCs and transition over time to more sustainable alternatives in a manner that maintains or increases energy efficiency.
Signatories of the statement include the following companies, organisations, and associations: 3M; Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); Airgas; The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy; Arkema; Aspen Skiing Company; Aveda; Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.; Berkshire Hathaway Energy; BioAmber Inc.; Brazilian Association for HVAC-R (ABRAVA); Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP); CA Technologies; Cap & Seal Co.; Catalyst Paper; Ceres; CH2M; The Chemours Company; Daikin U.S. Corporation; Danfoss; Dell Inc.; The Dow Chemical Company; DSM; Dynatemp International; Eileen Fisher; Emerson Climate Technologies; Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2); European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE); Falcon Safety Products; Gap Inc.; General Mills; Godrej Group; Golden Refrigerant; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Honeywell; Hudson Technologies; ICP Adhesives & Sealants, Inc.; Ingersoll Rand; The Japan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association (JRAIA); Johnson Controls; Lapolla Industries, Inc.; Lennox International; Mexichem; Microsoft; Midwest Refrigerants; Mission Pharmacal Company; National Refrigerants; Nike; Red Bull; Refrigerants Australia; Refrigerants, Naturally!; Rheem Manufacturing Company; RM2; SEVO Systems, Inc.; shecco america; Solvay; Symantec; Tri Global Energy; True Refrigeration; Unilever; and Virginia Mason Health System.
These companies include producers of the chemicals, manufacturers of equipment that use HFCs, and end-users, which demonstrates that companies throughout the HFC supply chain support strong global action on HFCs.
Signatories of the aforementioned statement also include ICLEI USA, which represents hundreds of sub-national governments; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda Member and Compact of Mayors Member; Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, C40 Vice-Chair and Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda Member; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, C40 Vice-Chair and Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda Co-Founder; Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda Member; San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda Member; and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, C40 Member and Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda Member.