In an unprecedented development, Africa has followed India’s recent decision to sign up to an HFC phase-down by announcing that it plans on tackling the issue.
Ahead of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) special meeting in Bangkok earlier this month, India submitted an advance copy of an amendment proposal to the Montreal Protocol proposing a phase-down of HFCs.
The meeting marks the first Open-Ended Working Group of the Montreal Protocol’s 30-year history dedicated to discussing HFCs.
At last year’s Meeting of the Parties in Paris, countries agreed on the need to host a supplemental OEWG, in addition to its annual meeting in July, to discuss HFCs.
Subsequently, at the five-day meeting in Bangkok, the African group emerged as a strong voice in support of tackling HFCs, overcoming resistance by a minority of countries.
There were high expectations at the start of the meeting following the announcement of a HFC phase-down amendment by India, previously one of the strongest opponents.
This proposal, in combination with those filed previously by the North American countries and Micronesia and the efforts of the African group, brought new energy to the negotiations, with the vast majority of developing and developed countries in favour of a phase-down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.
However, strong opposition from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states showed that there remain serious obstacles ahead.
“The efforts of India and Senegal, and the leadership of the African group in moving negotiations forward, provide hope that all countries can come to a swift agreement to take fast action on HFCs,” said Clare Perry, head of climate for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
A two-day technical workshop followed by a three-day political meeting was dedicated to the issue of managing HFCs. Parties agreed to continue inter-sessional work on HFCs with a view to establishing a contact group at the next OEWG meeting in Paris in July.
The explicit mention of ‘contact group’ is significant as it indicates formal negotiations will start this year.
Avipsa Mahapatra, EIA international climate policy analyst, added: “With the European Union also expected to submit a proposal, it is a clear signal that there has been significant political progress on the issue of HFCs and instead of questioning whether HFCs should be addressed under the Protocol, countries are now trying to answer how to address them.”