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Daily report for 4 November 2019

31st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP 31)

The preparatory segment of the thirty-first Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP 31) opened on Monday, 4 November 2019 in Rome, Italy. In the morning, delegates heard opening statements and addressed organizational and administrative matters. They also addressed: the terms of reference (ToR) for the study on the 2021–2023 replenishment of the Multilateral Fund (MLF); potential areas of focus for the 2022 quadrennial assessment reports of the Scientific Assessment Panel (SAP), the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (EEAP) and the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP); ongoing reported emissions of carbon tetrachloride (CTC); and the unexpected emissions of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11).

In the afternoon, delegates continued discussions on CFC-11, and deliberated on nominations for critical-use exemptions (CUEs) for methyl bromide for 2020 and 2021.

Opening of the Preparatory Segment

Welcoming delegates, Roberto Morassut, Undersecretary of State, Italian Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea, applauded the Montreal Protocol as an extraordinary example of international cooperation that will continue to inspire global environmental policies to transition towards a sustainable world for current and future generations. Morassut thanked his colleagues for the spirit of friendship and trust that is a hallmark of the Montreal Protocol, and noted Italy’s commitment to working towards the rapid ratification and implementation of the Kigali Amendment.

René Castro-Salazar, Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Development, FAO, stressed the urgency for countries to work together to reduce food waste, noting it would be possible for current food production to feed the entire world if waste were eliminated. Underscoring the need for international cooperation to have a positive impact on people, climate and biodiversity, Castro-Salazar noted his organization’s efforts to bring Ministers of Environment and Agriculture together—for the first time ever—at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in China in 2020.

Tina Birmpili, Executive Secretary, Ozone Secretariat, underscored the importance of energy efficiency for cold chains and food security. She praised China’s efforts to combat the unexpected CFC-11 emissions and, recalling the importance of monitoring and observation for detecting the unexpected CFC-11 emissions, called for more monitoring stations globally. Birmpili stressed the Protocol’s link to other conventions and the post-2020 processes for biodiversity and chemicals. She mentioned the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) 50th anniversary in 2022 as a chance to convey the Montreal Protocol’s success.

Organizational Matters

OEWG 41 Co-Chair Alain Wilmart (Belgium) presented the agenda (UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/1). ITALY requested including discussion of the Rome Declaration under “other matters,” underscoring that the Rome Declaration will link the Montreal Protocol’s contribution to reducing food waste through sustainable cold chain development. The agenda was adopted as amended.

Delegates agreed to the organization of work as proposed.

Administrative matters

BUDGET OF THE TRUST FUND FOR THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL AND FINANCIAL REPORTS: OEWG 41 Co-Chair Wilmart introduced this item (UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/2, UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/3, UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/4, UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/INF/1 and UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/INF/2). He requested parties indicate if they are interested in participating in the Budget Committee, stating it would convene immediately following the close of the morning session.

CONSIDERATION OF THE MEMBERSHIP OF MONTREAL PROTOCOL BODIES FOR 2020: Noting the need for parties to decide on the membership of the Implementation Committee (ImpCom), the MLF Executive Committee (ExCom) as well as the OEWG 42 Co-Chairs, OEWG 41 Co-Chair Laura Juliana Arciniegas (Colombia) asked parties to notify the Secretariat of their nominations as they are decided.

ToR for the study on the 2021–2023 replenishment of the MLF

OEWG 41 Co-Chair Wilmart introduced this item, noting the MLF replenishment is necessary for Article 5 parties to comply with their obligations under the Protocol during the 2021-2023 implementation period (UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/2, UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/3, and UNEP/OzL.Pro.WG.1/41/5). Opening the floor for comments, the US flagged its intention to introduce some new concepts to the existing ToR. A contact group was established, facilitated by Ralph Brieskorn (the Netherlands) and Leslie Smith (Grenada).

Potential areas of focus for the 2022 quadrennial assessment reports of the SAP, EEAP and TEAP

OEWG 41 Co-Chair Arciniegas introduced this agenda item (UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/2, UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/3, and UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/8). The EUROPEAN UNION (EU) outlined the draft decision, saying he wanted the decision to include sufficient detail to guide the Assessment Panels for a focused report in 2022. Additional areas of focus, he said, include a-dichloromethane and CTC emissions, short-lived substances, and five volatile fluoroorganic compounds found in the Arctic. Supported by a number of parties, the EU suggested a contact group be established. JAPAN and NIGERIA expressed interest in banks elimination as outlined in the CRP. INDIA stressed the assessments should focus on the most recent commitments such as the HFC phase-down. CHINA underscored the importance of cost and availability of technologies for replacing HFCs, and overall phase out of ozone depleting substances (ODS). NIGERIA, MALAYSIA, and MEXICO underscored energy efficiency for the HFC phase-down, while AUSTRALIA proposed updating the Assessment Panels’ ToR. OEWG 41 Co-Chair Arciniegas established a contact group co-facilitated by Cindy Newberg (US) and Samuel Paré (Burkina Faso).

Unexpected emissions of CFC-11

OEWG 41 Co-Chair Arciniegas introduced this agenda item (UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/2, UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/2/Add.1, UNEP/OzLPro/31/6, UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/INF/9, UNEP/OzL.Pro.WG.1/41/5, UNEP/OzL.Pro.WG.1/41/3, and UNEP/OzL.Pro.WG.1/41/3/Add.1).

The SAP presented its interim report, stating it has worked with the scientific community to address CFC-11 emissions. They noted where the monitoring stations are located and added that the estimated increase in global emissions of CFC-11 from 2014-2016 are not currently a threat to the ozone layer; however, if these emissions were to continue at a sustained rate, they could pose a threat.

The SAP noted evidence indicating the increase in CFC-11 emissions: a slowing global concentration decline; an increasing North-South hemispheric concentration difference; and increased concentrations in pollution plumes reaching Hawaii as well as Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. The SAP concluded, noting that updated measurements post-2017 suggest that the global CFC-11 emissions are declining.

The TEAP Task Force on Unexpected CFC-11 Emissions presented the main findings in their final report. They found that: the pre-2010 production and usage of CFC-11 is unlikely to account for the current emissions; emissions from regional foam banks are insufficient to explain atmospheric-derived emissions as its likely usage is for closed-cell foams; and it likely is the result of new CFC-11 production.

The Task Force cited technical and economic factors encouraging CFC-11 usage in closed-cell foams such as the reduced availability of HCFC-141b due to phase-out, and price increases in HCFC-141b and HFCs. They further posited that the mislabeling of polyol blends for foams could result in CFC-11 emissions without the knowledge of users.

Responding to questions from Parties, the SAP noted that while the decline in CFC-11 emissions in 2018-2019 has not been quantified, they can confirm that the emissions have decreased and are now closer to pre-2012 rates. They also underscored that CFC-11 is 100% anthropogenic, so the possibility of natural causes has been ruled out.

OEWG 41 Co-Chair Arciniegas then invited parties to provide further comments.

CHINA updated the MOP on its efforts to address illegal use of CFC-11, saying progress has been achieved through measures such as: amending existing legislation to ensure it is effective and robust; implementing campaigns to strengthen capacity, such as local training workshops; providing teams, equipment and laboratory facilities for testing ODS; deploying additional inspection units and monitoring equipment; and formulating a monitoring plan. Noting China’s willingness to continue to share information and collaborate, she urged that solutions on this issue not detract from the other important objectives of the Protocol.

NORWAY and many others expressed concern regarding unexpected CFC-11 emissions and queried how to ensure such a situation does not reoccur. The US and CANADA noted much of the information is preliminary and requested continued updates from the SAP. Supported by CHINA, KUWAIT, IRAN, AUSTRALIA, CANADA and the EU, the US urged that the contact group established at OEWG 41 be re-established. The EU, supported by CHINA, suggested the contact group’s mandate be narrowed to address institutional matters and processes only.

The US, supported by CANADA, indicated his desire to draft a decision addressing two issues: first, ensuring that such an issue does not reoccur; and second, examining in more detail what has already transpired in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol. The US posed a number of questions to China, including whether reporting has been amended to account for CFC-11 production and what has been done to address the downstream users of CFC-11. KUWAIT, supported by BURKINA FASO and AUSTRALIA, expressed their desire to resolve this issue at the MOP so parties can concentrate on other potential challenges. CANADA, supported by AUSTRALIA, the EU and IRAQ, supported strengthening monitoring and enforcement activities. CANADA and AUSTRALIA also highlighted their concern that the CFC-11 experience demonstrates the risk that countries may revert to substances that have already been phased out.

The contact group was re-established with an updated mandate. OEWG 41 Co-Chair Arciniegas requested parties with concrete proposals on this issue meet to agree on a single CRP to present to plenary prior to the contact group meeting.

Ongoing reported emissions of CTC

OEWG 41 Co-Chair Wilmart introduced this agenda item (UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/2), noting that the issue of CTC emissions was raised during OEWG 41, in relation to the unexpected emissions of CFC-11 and recalled that, inter alia, parties requested that there be expanded atmospheric monitoring of such emissions and further mitigation options be offered by the Assessment Panels.

SWITZERLAND said that addressing these emissions is crucial to avoid a threat to the Montreal Protocol’s efficacy and underscored their commitment to work with parties to make use of the synergies with other agenda items to avoid duplication of work.

The EU and US responded saying that the 2022 quadrennial assessment reports and unexpected emissions of CFC-11 should be fully considered before finalizing the way forward on CTC emissions.

Supporting Switzerland’s proposal, BURKINA FASO, NORWAY and SENEGAL said more information is needed on the characteristics of these emissions and possible alternative uses of CTC.

Co-Chair Wilmart proposed informal discussions take place on this agenda item and, upon completion of addressing CFC-11 and the focus areas for the 2022 quadrennial assessment reports, plenary return to the matter, to which delegates agreed.

Issues related to exemptions under Articles 2A–2I of the Montreal Protocol

NOMINATIONS FOR CUEs FOR METHYL BROMIDE FOR 2020 AND 2021: OEWG 41 Co-Chair Wilmart introduced this agenda item (UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/2 and UNEP/OzL.Pro.31/2/Add.1). Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC) Co-Chairs Marta Pizano and Ian Porter presented their recommendations on the CUEs requested by Australia, Canada, Argentina, and South Africa. SOUTH AFRICA said it accepted the MBTOC’s recommendation, but noted fumigation needs to take place twice yearly and the alternative to methyl bromide, sulfuryl fluoride, is yet to penetrate the market. AUSTRALIA confirmed its commitment to use methyl iodide as an alternative and said they are preparing a CRP with Canada, and in consultation with Argentina and South Africa. CANADA thanked the MBTOC for acknowledging the lack of methyl bromide substrates and confirmed ongoing efforts to identify alternatives.

In the Corridors

Delegates arrived at MOP 31 prepared for yet another packed agenda. The Ancient Roman saying “Amat Victoria Curam”—victory loves preparation— some observers said was apt. They noted that for delegates to conclude MOP 31 with a sense of victory, they will have to conclude work on a number of “meaty” issues, including the key agenda items on the unexpected emissions of CFC-11, the ToR for the 2021–2023 MLF replenishment study, and the potential areas of focus for the 2022 quadrennial assessment reports.

In order to ensure the Protocol’s continued success, some delegates suggested parties will have to work hard to address the recent challenges facing the Protocol. These challenges, they said, necessitate that parties reflect on what has led to the Protocol’s success, address what needs to be changed in light of changing circumstances, and collectively agree on a way forward.

Given that contact group and informal discussions began immediately, many delegates were left hoping that come Friday, they could say “Veni, Vidi, Vici”—I came, I saw, I conquered.

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