Ministers and high-level representatives of 25 countries, including Rwanda, have backed the adoption of an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase-down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons are compounds consisting of hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine, and carbon atoms that destroy the stratospheric ozone layer essential to life on Earth or contribute to global warming.
This was as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Executive High Level Assembly met Friday in Vienna, Austria, to discuss how to mobilize fast action to phase-down the powerful greenhouse gases.
The Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of substances responsible for its depletion.
Dr. Vincent Biruta, Minister of Natural Resources, called for an early freeze date to restrict HFC growth and encouraged other countries to follow.
Biruta said Rwanda supports the promotion of energy efficient technologies that use climate-friendly HFC alternatives, and additional funding through the Multilateral Fund to support implementation, including funding the freeze.
“Rwanda supports the idea of having a baseline to be calculated using HFC data available in the years; 2017 to 2019 plus a percentage of HFC baseline of individual countries,” he said.
“With respect to the freeze date, we think it is appropriate to establish a freeze date for A5 [developing] countries after A2 [developed] countries have agreed to a baseline and freeze date themselves.”
According to Dr Biruta, the grace period needs to be short enough to avoid increased consumption of HFCs. He said Rwanda stands prepared to begin implementing a freeze and phase down “soon after Article 2 countries.”
“We believe with appropriate funding this could occur in as little as five or six years after an agreed amendment. But our ambition must be matched by their ambition and appropriate funding.”
In October, Kigali will host the next Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol.
At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, parties to the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a historic agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future starting in the year 2020.
Dr Biruta said many parties have worked tirelessly on the HFC amendment known as “The Dubai Pathway” for controlling climate-change inducing HFCs and, “this is commendable and Rwanda salutes their efforts.”
A 2014 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) scientific assessment of ozone depletion indicated that although HFCs represent a small fraction of global greenhouse gases, their warming effect is strong, and their emissions are projected to increase nearly twenty fold in the coming decades.
If HFC growth continues on the current trajectory, the increase in their emissions is projected to undo much of the climate benefit achieved by phasing out ozone-depleting substances, the minister said, urging for an integrated approach when tackling issues of ozone and climate change.
A greenhouse gas (GHG) is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect.
The greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere.
A communiqué adopted by all CCAC partner countries and organizations at the specially convened meeting of CCAC’s High Level Assembly, says an HFC phase-down under the Montreal Protocol can avoid up to 0.5⁰ Celsius of global warming by the turn of the century.
The meeting confirmed support and commitment for rapid action to reduce HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.
“If we accompany the HFC phase-down with policies to promote super-efficient appliances we can double our climate benefit while also improving air quality and strengthening energy security,” said Hakima El Haite, Morocco’s Minister of Environment.
“The past week we resolved the preliminary challenges, including finance. Now we are ready for the final step, which is to adopt the amendment in October. As a Climate Champion for COP 22, I am committed to achieving this historic agreement this year to protect the Earth and our citizens.”
CCAC partner countries are pushing for an ambituous amendment to reduce HFCs that have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) 100s to 1,000s of times more powerful than carbon-dioxide (CO2).
As noted, improving the average efficiency of air conditioners sold in 2030 by 30% could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25 billion tonnes over the lifetime of the equipment.