EU-REPORT: EU policies on ozone-depleting substances (Premium)

The “Kigali Amendment” to the United Nations’ Montreal Protocol which aims to cut back the global use of HFCs (harmful hydrofluorocarbon gases) will come into force in January 2019 – By Pierre v. Costa

The Montreal Protocol to the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer is now more than thirty years old. It was agreed in the year 1987 in response to scientific evidence of a dangerously expanding hole in the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer, caused by humanity’s growing use of ozone-depleting substances.

As a result, the ozone layer is recovering and the Montreal Protocol has been acclaimed as an example of swift and effective international action to preserve the planet. Europe has already phased out the use of ozone depleting substances, ten years in advance of its Protocol commitments.

However, the continuing use of synthetic HFCs, for example in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment foams and aerosols, while not harmful to the ozone layer, has accelerated climate change. The global warming impact of HFCs up to 15.000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and they are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The “Kigali Amendment” to the Montreal Protocol agreed by 197 parties, adds HFCs to the list of controlled substances. The EU’s political leadership in reaching the deal, in October of the year 2016, has earned it an Ozone Award, which recognizes “extraordinary commitment” to the success of the Montreal Protocol.

The “Kigali Amendment” is proof of the global resolve to tackle climate change.

For Europe implementation of the commitment will not only help Europe to meet the climate objectives but will also create new opportunities for European manufacturers of air-conditioning.

The legally binding Amendment obliges developed countries to start cutting back their HFC production and consumption in the year 2019 with less developed states following in the medium term. In the EU, HFC emissions have already fallen for the first time in almost fifteen years. The UN Environment Agency estimates that the measure could reduce global temperature increases by up to 0.5°C by the end of the century, helping to achieve the Paris Agreement target of keeping the rise below 2°C.

More than twenty parties, including most member states, have already ratified the “Kigali Amendment”, passing the threshold for its entry into force.

The European Union is leading global efforts to limit emissions of HFCs and other fluorinated greenhouse gases. The European Commission has been progressively reducing quotas for the use of HFCs. The overall 2018 allocation is just 63% of the 2015 total.