Post-Kyoto Protocol

Climate Change is seen by many Governments as one of the key issues of environmental protection. Many Governments support the adoption of a long-term binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The first commitment period of the current agreement, the Kyoto Protocol concludes end-2012 and, at present, an extension of the reductions in emissions for developed countries, mandated under the Kyoto Protocol, has not been agreed. This is primarily as a number of developed countries believe that rapidly emerging economies must also make reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions if the atmospheric concentrations of these gases are to be stabilised at a level that will not lead to large global temperature rises.

The emissions of HFCs are included in basket of gases in the Kyoto Protocol. It is estimated that the overall global warming impact of HFC emissions worldwide currently represents less than 2% of the total global greenhouse gases emissions. While HFCs are the preferred solution for many societal needs because of their safety and performance advantages, without action the demand for HFCs will grow due to the replacement of HCFCs as well as the increasing demand for refrigeration and air conditioning, especially in developing countries. Such growth would result in HFCs becoming a more significant source of emissions in the future.

Negotiations on establishing a new international agreement to tackle climate change continue under the auspices of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which holds annual formal meetings as well as a number of working group meetings throughout each year. The 16th Conference of Parties (COP-16) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change met in Cancun, Mexico from December 7 to 18, 2010.

The “Cancun Agreements” were the key outcomes of the meeting from COP-16 and are detailed in decisions 1/CP.16 and 1/CMP.6.

Two groups, the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) were instrumental in carrying out the negotiations and providing the texts that form the Cancun Agreements.

The outcome of work by the AWG-LCA and the main elements of the Bali Action Plan covers: a shared vision for long-term cooperative action; adaptation; mitigation; finance; technology; and capacity building (Decision 1/CP.16). This decision also extends the mandate of the AWG-LCA to 2011 to carry out the undertakings contained in the decision. It also continues the discussions of legal options to complete an agreed outcome based on the Bali Action Plan. The AWG-LCA has been requested to present the results for adoption at COP-17 in Durban.

The outcome of the work of the AWG-KP (Decision 1/CMP.6) mandates work to continue with the results adopted “as early as possible” to avoid a gap between the first and second commitment periods. Annex I Parties’ pledges for economy-wide emission reduction targets are noted and they are urged to increase the level of ambition. The decision further indicates that emissions trading and the project-based mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol shall continue to be available, together with measures related to LULUCF. Further work in 2011 will be based on AWG-KP’s draft texts contained in FCCC/KP/AWG/CRP.4/Rev.4.

Ad Hoc Working Group on long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA)

  • Pledges made by developed and developing countries under the Copenhagen Accord are to be placed into the text. This is seen as significant because it represents considerable movement towards the idea of developing nations taking on legally-binding commitments if such an instrument is negotiated in the future.
  • The text acknowledges that the current emissions reduction commitments are not sufficient to meet the goal of keeping warming to 2°C, and urges greater ambition by all parties to increase their commitments. The decision defers to future negotiations a clear statement of a peak year for global emissions and a specific long-term reduction goal for global emissions. The decision text states that the COP will revisit the 2°C warming goal in 2013 to assess whether it needs to be strengthened to 1.5°C.
  • The decision establishes a Green Climate Fund run by the UN with the World Bank serving as the initial trustee. Developing nations are afforded significant power on the board of this Fund. The decision’s text also includes the Copenhagen Accord commitment to fast-start ($30 billion by 2012) and long-term finance commitment ($100 billion annually by 2020).
  • There is a section on Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification of emissions reductions for developing countries that seemed to satisfy the United States and has been agreed to by the Chinese.
  • Establishes a system for crediting nations for reducing deforestation through the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), a deal which had been thought to be one of the most likely to come out of the conference but which continually ran into small roadblocks throughout the two weeks of discussion in Cancun.
  • Establishes a Technology Mechanism, guided by a Technology Executive Committee, to enhance the capability of technology development and deployment to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Ad Hoc Workin Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol

The two page document is a commitment to continue working on determining the form for the Kyoto Protocol; the text says that there should be no gap between the first and second commitment period, which signals that there will be such a period. The text urges developed nations to increase the level of their ambition in their emissions reduction pledges, and continues emissions trading.
The next Conference of the Parties is scheduled to take place in South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011.

EFCTC Position

  • HFCs have been developed as safe substitutes for Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) covered by the Montreal Protocol.
    • ODS, which are not taken into consideration by the Kyoto Protocol, are equally or even more powerful Greenhouse Gases than HFCs
    • Taken together global CO2 equivalent emissions of HFCs and ODSs have been declining over time.
      HFCs can be used safely in a wide range of energy efficient applications such as insulation, refrigeration and air conditioning. Their indirect contribution to CO2-emission reduction (by lowering energy consumption) is important.
    • Contrary to other Greenhouse Gases, HFCs are produced to meet a demand. They are not by-products. They can be recovered and re-used. Consequently, emissions of HFCs can be prevented and minimized.
    • The most widely used HFCs have a much shorter atmospheric lifetime than CO2and are removed from the atmosphere relatively quickly.
  • EFCTC fully supports an ambitious global agreement on the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions. We therefore accept that a “Business as Usual” scenario for HFCs is not an option.
    • What is needed is legal certainty as the equipment relying on HFCs has a use cycle of 10 years or more.
    • Preference should be given to a market based approach, where an ambitious consumption reduction target is set and the implementation is left to the maximum extent possible to the operators in the market.
    • In view of the extremely broad use of HFCs, these substances should remain separate from an emissions trading scheme.
  • In this context it must be noted that concrete proposals for such a “phase down” schedule have been made to the Montreal Protocol, notably draft decision XXI [J] by Micronesia and Mauritius and by a group of countries, Canada/Mexico and USA.
    • These proposals were discussed at the 21st Meeting of the Montreal Protocol held in Port Ghalib, Egypt, November 4th-8th, 2009 and again at the 22nd Meeting of the Montreal Protocol in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2010. It is anticipated that there will be further discussion at the Montreal Protocol Open-ended Working Group meeting in August 2011 and at the 23rd Meeting of the Parties in Indonesia in November 2011.
    • EFCTC supports the concept of the proposals from Canada/Mexico/USA however there is considerable detail that requires further analysis to further develop the proposal so that it could form the basis of an international agreement. The production/consumption allows an “upper limit” which sets the level of ambition.
    • In order to achieve an international agreement around this proposal, EFCTC considers that it is important to focus on a consumption cap, which determines use leading to reduced emissions. A production cap determines where the substance is produced. On this basis a production cap is not necessary, but if a production cap is to be considered then it is better to include HCFCs alongside HFCs in any baseline.

Concluding remarks

Neither COP-15 in Copenhagen nor COP-16 in Cancun came to decisive outcomes on adopting a comprehensive global agreement to tackle the risks of climate change. However, the outputs from these meetings, the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun Agreements, can be seen as steps towards such an agreement.

For HFCs, there has been considerable discussion within Working Groups under the Ad-hoc Working Group for Long-term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA) on future control measures and whether these should be under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer or the Kyoto Protocol.

Unfortunately, there was no resolution, and the text on HFCs (below) that had been in square brackets for further discussion, did not appear in the final Cancun Agreements:

“Urges Parties, without prejudice to the scope of the Convention and its related instruments, to pursue, under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the adoption of appropriate measures to progressively reduce the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons”.

How the issue of control of HFCs continues is now open to question. Discussions on the control of HFCs within the Montreal Protocol remain complicated. It was anticipated that the Cancun meeting would enable the Montreal Protocol to start the process of establishing an amendment that would control the production and consumption of HFCs. As the Cancun meeting failed to take such a decision, this leaves the Parties to the Montreal Protocol with the decision whether to take the action on their own behalf or whether to “wait” for a decision from a subsequent climate change meeting, potentially COP-17 in Durban (December 2011). One of the key issues that needs to be resolved is to draw a clear distinction between HFC-emissions as a result of their use and those as by-products in the production of chemicals.

For the climate change negotiations, the discussions on HFCs remain a small sub-set of the complex and wide-ranging negotiations on a global climate change agreement and further discussions on HFCs will be determined by how these overall negotiations progress. It must be noted that, in the aftermath of the Cancun conference, many commentators have expressed interest is pursuing agreements at a disaggregated level, e.g. through sectoral agreements.

It is vital, however, that text, such as that in the paragraph above, is re-established and discussed within the negotiation to enable actions on the control of HFCs to progress. It is expected that the European Union will propose such discussion.

In parallel to these discussions, the review of the F-gas regulation within the European Union is progressing but the discussions concerning the “cap and allocation” and the separate HFC title within the USA has stalled.

EFCTC’s position remains unchanged from above, the need to give industries that are using these important products predictability over their future uses, the need to encourage reductions in emissions and the view that they should remain under the Kyoto Protocol whilst implementation of controls could be managed under the Montreal Protocol.