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US Climate Envoy: “HFCs should be handled under the Montreal Protocol”

HFCs can be and should be handled right away under the Montreal Protocol, said the US Special Envoy on Climate Change, Todd Stern.

According to local press reports, Mr Stern, speaking at a UN convention on climate change in Warsaw, suggested that countries were merely delaying by talking of legal and other issues in moving the refrigerant gas from under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to the Montreal Protocol, which deals with ozone depleting substances.

He said the protocol also dealt with any substitutes that were used in place of the ozone depleting substances, such as HFCs.

In a veiled reference to India and China, who have so far evaded commitment to an HFC phase-down, Mr Stern said: “The institution that is born to do this (phase down of refrigerant gases HFCs) and has jurisdiction over HFCs is the Montreal Protocol.

“Our view is let’s not stand on ceremony. There are some countries that are to some extent standing on ceremony when they say no it should be done under UNFCCC which deals with greenhouse gases.”

The legal principles in question ensure that developing countries can claim full costs for the phase out of the refrigerant gases and not just incremental costs that the Montreal Protocol offers.

The refrigeration industry is growing at the highest rates in India and China and promises to be a lucrative market for any alternative green technology which is in the hands of U.S.-based companies.

But Mr Stern negated the Indian and Chinese position on the matter saying, “Montreal Protocol has built in differentiation. It is not the same kind of differentiation like it’s built in the UNFCCC but it’s got differentiation built in.”

He dismissed suggestions that the UNFCCC principles should apply. “Let’s just get some results,” Mr Stern said.

The decisions proposed as end results of the Warsaw meeting on paper have a paragraph on HFCs too and is likely to be argued out over the next week before a final call is taken by consensus by all countries.

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