Statement on North American HFC Amendment Proposal
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair. I am speaking this morning on behalf of Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America. With our colleagues from Canada and Mexico, we have proposed to amend the Montreal Protocol to:
- Phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in all Parties
- Control byproduct emissions of HFC-23
- Address trade in HFCs, and
- Require licensing systems and reporting on HFCs
The environmental benefits of this proposal would be considerable, amounting to more than 90 gigatons (gt) of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2-e) through 2050. This equates to about two years of current emissions of greenhouse gases from human sources.
Why do we propose to phase down – under the Montreal Protocol – consumption and production of substances that have no ozone depleting potential? Aren’t these substances now included in the basket of gases under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change?
We propose to phase down HFC consumption and production here because it is our own efforts under the Montreal Protocol – as we seek to phase out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) --that are leading Parties increasingly to consume and produce them. Article 2.2b of the Vienna Convention calls on Parties to “harmonize” appropriate policies in the phaseout of ozone depleting substances. Because HFCs are replacements for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and HCFCs that have been and are being phased out under the Protocol we have the authority and responsibility under the Protocol to address HFCs.
Not only that, Mr. Co-chairman. We have a track record of success under the Montreal Protocol that is the rival of many other international instruments. The Montreal Protocol remains the only “universal” instrument that has been ratified by all countries of the world. Under it, we have the expertise and the institutions – including importantly the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund – as well as the “band-width” if you will to undertake this effort.
Yes, it is true that HFCs are included in the basket of gases under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and our proposed amendment would not change that. We have been very clear that we will continue to include HFCs within the scope of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions.
I restate these essential points here, even though they are by now well known to most of the delegates in this hall. This is not the first time we have submitted such an amendment proposal, nor is it the first time that this issue has been considered at a meeting of the Parties. This is the fourth year that our three countries have submitted an amendment proposal. It is the fifth year that we have discussed this issue at the MOP.
We have been greatly encouraged since our meeting last year in Geneva by developments related to HFCs, and in particular by the growing awareness around the world of the threat they pose to the climate system and by the growing realization of the opportunity we have here to take action.
A number of these developments were noted yesterday by our Executive Secretary speaking on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. Among them, he noted that in June 2012 the outcome document from the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil, “The Future We Want” had the following provision:
“We recognize that the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances is resulting in a rapid increase in the use and release of high global-warming potential hydrofluorocarbons to the environment. We support a gradual phase-down in the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons.”
Of course, production and consumption are the control mechanisms we use under the Montreal Protocol – meaning that the Rio+20 language expresses support not only for minimizing HFCs as we phase out HCFCs, but also for implementing a comprehensive phase down using the very same tools we use here.
Also noted yesterday was the language just last month adopted by G-20 leaders. We recall that they said:
“We also support complementary initiatives, through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and the institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), based on the examination of economically viable and technically feasible alternatives. We will continue to include HFCs within the scope of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions.”
Similar support for action using the institutions and expertise of the Montreal Protocol have been expressed by a number of our leaders in important bilateral meetings as well. For example, last month on the margins of the G-20 in St. Petersburg, President Obama and President Xi of China said:
“We emphasize the importance of the Montreal Protocol, including as a next step through the establishment of an open-ended contact group to consider all relevant issues, including financial and technology support to Article 5 developing countries, cost effectiveness, safety of substitutes, environmental benefits, and an amendment.”
We think it is time for us, the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, to move forward as we have been broadly encouraged to do in multiple fora and as we have been specifically encouraged to do by many of our leaders.
Mr. Co-Chair, it is time to establish an open-ended contact group on an amendment to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, based on the examination of economically viable and technically feasible alternatives. The contact group should consider an amendment and all relevant issues, including financial and technology support to Article 5 developing countries, cost effectiveness, safety of substitutes, and environmental benefits.
Mr. Co-Chair, in closing let me note that we have had five years of discussion at these meetings and before them in the Open-Ended Working Group. Around the world there is intense of interest in this issue that continues and increases every day. There is broad and growing support for action by this body.
With such a groundswell, it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain to people everywhere who are demanding action what we are doing if we are not moving forward. Let us establish a contact group and begin.
I thank you.