31st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP 31)
The thirty-first Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP 31) convenes for the first time since the entry into force of the Kigali Amendment and with the news that the ozone hole is the smallest on record. Parties will build on discussions that took place at the Open-ended Working Group in July 2019, taking decisions to further the implementation of the Protocol. The high-level segment (HLS) is expected to focus on the Montreal Protocol’s contribution to reducing food loss through developing sustainable cold chains.
Expectations for the Meeting
Delegates at MOP 31 will resume the discussions they began at the 41st meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG 41), which took place in July 2019. The most high-profile of these will be the discussions on the unexpected emissions of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11). The Scientific Assessment Panel (SAP) and the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) will present their updated reports to the MOP. The Ozone Secretariat will also present their updated overview document to MOPs. Parties are expected to take these updates into account, and discuss a way forward on the issue.
At OEWG 41, parties forwarded a number of draft decisions for MOP 31 to consider. These include:
- The terms of reference (ToR) for the study on the 2021-2023 replenishment of the Multilateral Fund (MLF), which considers including allocating resources for: enabling all Article 5 parties to achieve and/or maintain compliance with the Protocol’s control measures; ensuring enhanced and improved vigilance through strengthening existing monitoring, verification, and reporting systems, and ensure sustained compliance; and preparing hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phase-down plans.
- The draft decision on the ToR for the study on the 2021-2023 MLF replenishment also requests the TEAP provide indicative figures for the resources required: for phasing out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that could be associated with enabling Article 5 parties to encourage using low- or zero-global-warming-potential alternatives; and for any resources needed to phase down HFCs in accordance with the Kigali Amendment.
- A draft decision on the potential areas of focus for the 2022 quadrennial assessment reports of the SAP, the TEAP and the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (EEAP), which requests: the EEAP to, inter alia, assess socio-economic effects, such as on ecosystem services, agriculture, and damage to materials; the SAP to, inter alia, identify and quantify, where possible, any other issues, including new issues, of importance to the ozone layer and the objectives of the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol; and the TEAP to, inter alia, assess and evaluate the status of banks, including stocks of controlled substances and the options available for eliminating them and avoiding emissions to the atmosphere.
- A draft decision on ongoing reported emissions of carbon tetrachloride (CTC), which requests the TEAP and the SAP to establish a joint CTC emissions task force to update the state of knowledge on potential emission sources and emission pathways of CTC and identify priorities for further research, including suggesting mitigation measures for reducing emissions.
Additional agenda items for consideration by the MOP include administrative issues, such as: the budget of the trust fund for the Montreal Protocol and financial reports; and consideration of the membership of Montreal Protocol bodies for 2020.
MOP 31 is convened in two parts: the preparatory segment, which convenes from 4-6 November; and the high-level segment, which convenes from 7-8 November. The HLS will feature a high-level roundtable on the sustainable cold food chain. Parties will also consider the adoption of a “Rome Declaration,” as one of the outcome documents of the meeting.
A Brief History of the Montreal Protocol
Concerns that the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer could be at risk from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other anthropogenic substances first arose in the early 1970s. At that time, scientists warned that releasing these substances into the atmosphere could deplete the ozone layer, hindering its ability to prevent harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from reaching the Earth. This would adversely affect ocean ecosystems, agricultural productivity and animal populations, and harm humans through higher rates of skin cancers, cataracts, and weakened immune systems. In response, a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) conference held in March 1977 adopted a World Plan of Action on the Ozone Layer and established a Coordinating Committee to guide future international action.
Key Turning Points
Vienna Convention: Negotiations on an international agreement to protect the ozone layer were launched in 1981 under the auspices of UNEP. In March 1985, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was adopted. It called for cooperation on monitoring, research, and data exchange, but it did not impose obligations to reduce usage of ozone depleting substances (ODS). The Convention now has 198 parties, which represents universal ratification.
Montreal Protocol: In September 1987, efforts to negotiate binding obligations to reduce ODS usage led to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol, which entered into force in January 1989. The Montreal Protocol introduced control measures for some CFCs and halons for developed countries (non-Article 5 parties). Developing countries (Article 5 parties) were granted a grace period, allowing them to increase their ODS use before taking on commitments. The Protocol has been ratified by 198 parties.
Since 1987, several amendments and adjustments have been adopted, adding new obligations and additional ODS and adjusting existing control schedules. Amendments require ratification by a certain number of parties before they enter into force; adjustments enter into force automatically. All amendments except its newest, the Kigali Amendment, have been ratified by 197 parties.
London Amendment and Adjustments: At MOP 2, held in London, UK, in 1990, delegates tightened control schedules and added ten more CFCs to the list of ODS, as well as CTC and methyl chloroform. MOP 2 also established the MLF, which meets the incremental costs incurred by Article 5 parties in implementing the Protocol’s control measures and finances clearinghouse functions. The Fund is replenished every three years.
Copenhagen Amendment and Adjustments: At MOP 4, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1992, delegates tightened existing control schedules and added controls on methyl bromide, hydrobromofluorocarbons, and HCFCs. MOP 4 also agreed to enact non-compliance procedures. It established an Implementation Committee (ImpCom) to examine possible non-compliance and make recommendations to the MOP aimed at securing full compliance.
Montreal Amendment and Adjustments: At MOP 9, held in Montreal, Canada, in 1997, delegates agreed to: a new licensing system for importing and exporting ODS, in addition to tightening existing control schedules; and banning trade in methyl bromide with non-parties to the Copenhagen Amendment.
Beijing Amendment and Adjustments: At MOP 11, held in Beijing, China, in 1999, delegates agreed to controls on bromochloromethane, additional controls on HCFCs, and reporting on methyl bromide for quarantine and pre-shipment applications.
Kigali Amendment: At MOP 28, held in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2016, delegates agreed to amend the Protocol to include HFCs as part of its ambit and to set phase-down schedules for HFCs. HFCs are produced as replacements for CFCs and thus a result of ODS phase-out. HFCs are not a threat to the ozone layer but have a high global warming potential. To date, 88 parties to the Montreal Protocol have ratified the Kigali Amendment, which entered into force on 1 January 2019.
COP 11/MOP 29: The eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (COP 11) and MOP 29 met from 20-24 November 2017, in Montreal, Canada. COP 11/MOP 29 adopted decisions including: essential-use exemptions and critical-use exemptions; future availability of halons; and energy efficiency. They also adopted a decision agreeing on a USD 540 million replenishment of the MLF for the triennium 2018-2020.
MOP 30: Convened from 5-9 November 2018 in Quito, Ecuador, MOP 30 adopted decisions on, inter alia: issues important to the January 2019 entry into force of the Kigali Amendment; approved destruction technologies to be used for HFCs; the MLF Executive Committee’s (ExCom) progress in developing guidelines for the financing of the HFC phase-down; Article 5 parties’ access to energy-efficient technologies in the refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump sectors; a proposal to permit essential use exemptions for HCFCs for specific uses by certain parties; and unexpected increases in CFC-11 emissions.
ExCom 82: The 82nd meeting of the MLF ExCom met in Montreal, Canada, from 3-7 December 2018. The ExCom discussions included, among other items, contributions to and status of the Fund, country programme data, and business planning for the period 2019 to 2021. They also addressed: a desk study on the evaluation of HCFC phase-out management plan (HPMP) preparation activities to assist with the implementation of the Kigali Amendment; matters arising from OEWG 40 and MOP 30 focusing on the increase in the global emissions of CFC-11; and policy matters related to the Kigali Amendment.
ExCom 83: The 83rd meeting of the MLF ExCom met in Montreal, Canada, from 27-31 May 2019. The ExCom discussed, inter alia: the report on Secretariat activities; the status of contributions and disbursements; the report on country programme data and prospects for compliance; and project reports. On matters related to the Kigali Amendment, delegates addressed issues of energy efficiency, developing cost guidelines for the HFC phase‑down in Article 5 countries, and key aspects related to HFC‑23 by‑product control technologies.
ImpCom 62: The 62nd meeting of the ImpCom met in Bangkok, Thailand, on 29 June 2019. The ImpCom considered, among others: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s risk of non-compliance relating to HCFCs; status updates from the Central African Republic, Kazakhstan, Libya, Ukraine, and Yemen; and presentations by the Secretariat and the MLF on implementation activities.
OEWG 41: OEWG 41 met in Bangkok, Thailand, from 1-5 July 2019. The discussions laid the groundwork for MOP 31, including, inter alia:
- issues related to unexpected emissions of CFC-11, which addressed two aspects—technical and scientific issues, with a view to identifying information that needs to be enhanced, and institutional matters and processes, including monitoring, reporting and verification, compliance, licensing and illegal trade;
- ToR for the study on the 2021-2023 replenishment of the MLF, with parties discussing allocating resources for preparing HFC phase-down plans; and maintaining and/or enhancing energy efficiency of low- or zero-GWP technologies and equipment while phasing down HFCs;
- review of the ToR, composition, balance, fields of expertise and workload of the TEAP, with delegates suggesting taking into account geographical and gender balance, and expertise needed to address new issues related to the Kigali Amendment, such as energy efficiency, safety standards, and climate benefits; and
- ToR for the 2022 Quadrennial Assessment, with suggestions including “the urgent need to turn attention to short lived substances and ODS banks.”
Discussions on safety standards were noted in the meeting report but not forwarded for MOP 31’s consideration.