Montreal Protocol conference urges flexible phase-out of dangerous gases

The 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP28) kicked off in Kigali, yesterday, with some parties and environmentalists calling for action that will help put the world on the path toward reducing hydroflourocarbons (HFCs).
Participans follow proceedings during the Montreal Protocol meet yesterday. (T. Kisambira.)
Participans follow proceedings during the Montreal Protocol meet yesterday. (T. Kisambira.)

The 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP28) kicked off in Kigali, yesterday, with some parties and environmentalists calling for action that will help put the world on the path toward reducing hydroflourocarbons (HFCs).

Montreal Protocol is regarded as the world’s most effective environmental treaty and expectations are high in Kigali for the next action on climate change—beginning with the ambitious amendment of the protocol.

 

At the opening ceremony, Tina Birmpili, executive secretary of the Ozone Secretariat at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said “this is the time to act” regarding protecting the ozone layer and mitigating climate change.

 

“As we convene here in Kigali, you are part of a historic moment that has been long in the making. It has taken years of useful discussions among you to get here. Now it’s time to act. To act together to protect the global environment while leaving no country behind. This is your chance to live up to what you have been working on for the last seven years,” Birmpili said.

 

On the first day, it was evident that Montreal Protocol parties meeting in Kigali are making progress in their talks on controlling global warming. However, issue remains on how to phase out the dangerous greenhouse gases, availability of future technologies and its costs, and additional funding required by developing countries to transition in a sustainable and affordable manner.

Countries such as India, Pakistan and China are some of the main producers and consumers of refrigerants and they are pushing for a “balanced agreement” in the amendment process to phase down HFCs — the refrigeration and air-conditioning coolants — which are said to have a high global warming potential.

At the meeting of the 198 parties, the big consumers and producers of the coolants are trying to negotiate separate deadlines for the developed and developing nations to phase out HFCs, arguing that there is a huge financial burden on such countries during the phase-out.

Reducing global warming

Yet still, according to the study, the amendment of the protocol will ultimately help avoid up to 0.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature by the end of the century and will significantly contribute toward the global goal of staying well below two degrees Celcius.

“Montreal Protocol amendment agreement can’t make you all happy, but it can make you all relatively happy,” Birmpili said. “Now is time to act together to protect the global environment. While each nation will always have its own priorities and challenges, by focusing on what we have in common rather than what makes us different, we can create an incredible force for positive, meaningful change.”

In Kigali, Birmpili said, it is in the world’s interest to ensure that the high-GWP HFCs are phased down, that developed countries can assist developing nations in their transition, and that developing nations commit to HFC phase down schedules without compromising their growth but putting their growth on a greener path.

She is also optimistic that, from the Kigali meeting, industries will choose “the most efficient technologies” and innovative approaches available to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Natural Resources minister Vincent Biruta called on all parties to come to the dais with the “same spirit” of collaboration and commitment to find common ground on the negotiations—which seek to amend the Montreal Protocol.

“For many of the world’s most vulnerable nations, including Rwanda, climate change is no longer an issue on the horizon. It’s a reality of our daily lives. From droughts that destroy our crops to landslides that tragically claim the lives of our sisters and brothers, we know too well the impacts of a warming planet,” Dr Biruta said.

“That is why Rwanda and many nations around the world support an ambitious amendment to the (Montreal) protocol. And if the amendment is accompanied by strong efforts to promote energy efficiency, we could double the climate benefits,” he added.

The minister expressed confidence that, while there are still some details to iron out, global experts on ozone protection and the climate, will provide guidance on the solutions and reach consensus on the pending issues.
The amendment to the Montreal treaty is believed to be a stepping stone to achieving the goals set by last year’s Paris Agreement on climate change planned to come into force within next month.

Dr Biruta said, by being courageous, by putting the future ahead of the present and amending the Montreal Protocol, the parties will send the signal that world’s governments are serious about action on climate change.

“Citizens of our countries will know that they can count on us to protect their future, end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity,” he said.

As the world strives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 13 on climate action, the minister added, parties must recognise that improving lives and conserving nature cannot be separated.

London’s Environmental Investigation Agency says ambitious political will from all countries is now needed to get the best agreement possible to phase down the HFCs and adopt new environment friendly technology.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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