Recent International Developments Under the Montreal Protocol
Fact Sheets Available on Transitioning to Low-GWP Alternatives
North American Amendment Proposal to Address HFCs under the Montreal Protocol
Together with our partners Canada and Mexico, the United States jointly submitted our 2012 proposal to phase-down consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in May 2012. Global benefits of the proposal can yield significant reductions of about 4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) through 2020 and 96 gigatons of CO2eq through 2050.
Although safe for the ozone layer, the continued emissions of HFCs—primarily as alternatives to ODS but also from the continued production of HCFC-22—will have an immediate and significant effect on the Earth’s climate system. Without further controls, it is predicted that HFC emissions could negate the entire climate benefits achieved under the Montreal Protocol. HFCs were created as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances but they are potent greenhouse gases. As the demand for air conditioning and refrigeration increases globally, and as countries phase out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) to protect the ozone layer, producers of such products will turn increasingly to HFCs unless suitable alternatives can be identified. The abundances of HFCs in the atmosphere are already rapidly increasing. Although HFCs pose no threat to the stratospheric ozone layer, they risk exacerbating the problem of climate change. Given the ongoing transition away from HCFCs, our proposal recognizes that this is the opportune time to encourage both the use of existing climate-friendly alternatives and the development of innovative, new alternatives that do not harm the ozone layer or climate system.
The North American Amendment proposal builds on the momentum and commitments made by countries declaring their intent to pursue further action to transition the world to more environmentally sound alternatives to ozone-depleting substances. In 2009, 41 countries signed a declaration to address HFCs. In 2010, there were 91 Signatories to an HFC declaration. In November 2011, at the 23rd Meeting of the Parties, the HFC declaration closed with 108 signatures and a new Bali Declaration which is stronger and more forward leaning had 95+ signatures.
The proposed amendment first will be discussed at a non-decisional Open-Ended Working Group meeting in July, and then formally at the 24th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in November.
For more information on the proposed amendment, please visit the United Nations Environment Programme Ozone Secretariat Web site. Links to specific documents are below:
- 2012 Submission Cover Letter
- 2012 Submission Summary
- 2012 Proposed Amendment Language
- Benefits of Addressing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, June 2012
Accomplishments from the 19th Meeting of the Parties (2007) in Montreal, Canada
Environmental Benefits of the New, Stronger HCFC Phaseout Agreement
At the 19th Meeting of the Parties in Montreal on September 17-21, 2007, the Parties agreed to more aggressively phase out ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The agreement to adjust the phase-out schedule for HCFCs is expected to reduce emissions of HCFCs to the atmosphere by 47 percent, compared to the prior commitments under the treaty over the 30-year period of 2010 to 2040. For the developing countries, the agreement means there will be about a 58 percent reduction in HCFCs emission over the 30 year period.
The climate benefits of the stronger HCFC agreement will depend on technology choices of the transition from HCFCs during the 30 year time frame of the HCFC phase out. The estimated climate benefit of the new, stronger HCFC phase out may be as much as 9,000 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2eq), or the equivalent of removing the climate emissions from 55 million U.S. passenger cars each year, for the next 30 years. This means the new, stronger HCFC agreement is equivalent to eliminating the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 40 percent of all U.S. passenger cars each year, for the next 30 years.
Another way of explaining the climate benefit of the new, stronger HCFC phaseout agreement is to say it is equivalent to eliminating the climate emissions from the electricity needed by 40 million U.S. households each year, for the next 30 years, which would be eliminating the climate emissions from the electricity needed by 40 percent of U.S. households each year, for the next 30 years.
Read analyses of climate benefits of the overall HCFC agreement at the 19th Meeting in Montreal.
Read analyses of ozone and climate benefits of the U.S. proposal (PDF) (43 pp, 262K, About PDF).
Read more about the HCFC phaseout in the U.S.