HFCs – Relationship between UNFCCC and the Montreal Protocol

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Date produced: 20/11/2013

How does the EU ministerial declaration address the relationship between UNFCCC and Montreal Protocol?

Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) are so called “super greenhouse gases” whose high global warming potential could undercut the benefits expected from the reduction of other greenhouse gases.

HFCs are used in, for example, refrigerators and air conditioning.

They were introduced by the industry to replace ozone destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) regulated by the Montreal Protocol.

While CFCs have almost been phased under the Montreal Protocol, HFCs production is rising.

As a result, there are several initiatives to address HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

It is estimated that a global phaseout could be the equivalent of cutting 90 gigatons of CO2 emissions by 2050, an amount nearly equal to two years’ worth of current global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Montreal Protocol is partially responsible for the introduction of HFCs but may also provide the structure, experience and expertise to ensure the effective phasing-down of HFCs, which are in the same family of gases, have similar chemical properties, and are used in the same sectors as ozone depleting substances.

This view is reflected in the second but last paragraph of the declaration.

The last paragraph addresses the relationship between Montreal Protocol and the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol.

While parties should pursue the reduction of the “production and consumption of HFCs” under the Montreal Protocol HFCs emissions will remain “within the scope of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol”.

This reflects the view that so called “upstream” production and consumption of HFCs (e.g. in connection with the construction of refrigerators and air conditioning units) should be addressed under the Montreal Protocol while “downstream” emissions (e.g. resulting from the use of equipment) should also be counted, measured and reported under the Kyoto Protocol/UNFCCC.