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Montreal Protocol: Vienna talks pave way for phasing down HFCs

The Open-Ended Working Group of Parties will meet in Vienna, Austria, on 15 July 2016. On 22 and 23 July, nearly 40 ministers have committed to participate in the negotiations. Last year, Parties agreed to reach an agreement in 2016 on cutting down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are the fastest growing greenhouse gases in many countries.

Vienna, the Austrian capital, will host the Open-Ended Working Group of Parties meeting

Vienna, the Austrian capital, will host the Open-Ended Working Group of Parties meeting

Used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances, HFCs are used in refrigeration, air conditioning, insulation, aerosols, solvents and fire protection products. Successful talks in Vienna could lead to an agreement when the Parties meet in Kigali, Rwanda, in October 2016. Such an agreement will help establish an early, clear and ambitious schedule to phase down HFCs, improve appliance energy efficiency, and quickly arrest warming.

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Nearly 178 countries to date have signed the Paris Agreement and 19 have ratified it. The international community recognises the urgency to take immediate measures to prevent global warming passing the 1.5ºC threshold.

The talks in Vienna will set the stage for an agreement on the amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase-down HFCs and presents the earliest opportunity for the international community to unite once again on another landmark environmental pact to protect the climate.

A rapid phasedown of HFCs could prevent more than 100 billion tonnes of CO2-e from entering the atmosphere over the next several decades and avoid 0.5°C warming by the end of the century. There are four proposals to the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs (from the North American countries, the European Union, India and the Island States.) There is strong political will to take these talks forward demonstrated by the several high-level ministers who will be present in Vienna.

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In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was formed to address the depletion of the ozone layer from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances. The success of that agreement, which has put the ozone layer on the path to recovery by 2065, calls for a repeat.

Civil society expectations from this meeting:

  • The talks in Vienna should set the tone for an agreement that will ensure an ambitious phase-down schedule for both developed and developing countries.
  • Developed countries need to lead on setting an ambitious phase-down schedule of HFCs so as to commercialise climate-friendly alternatives, make them competitive and build confidence for developing countries to transition.
  • Developed countries need to provide adequate funding and technology transfer under the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund to enable developing countries to remain on track with their phase-down schedule.
  • Additional fast start funding should be made available to developing countries to achieve energy efficiency gains including by improving the design of equipment using alternatives to HFCs.

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