Report of main proceedings for 4 November 2015
Montreal Protocol MOP 27
The penultimate day of Montreal Protocol MOP 27 opened on Wednesday, 4 November 2015, in Dubai, UAE. The contact groups and informal discussions on items from the Preparatory Segment’s agenda met throughout the day.
The HLS opened in the morning, where delegates heard opening statements, took part in a ministerial roundtable, heard a presentation on the synthesis of the 2014 quadrennial assessments, and listened to statements from heads of delegation.
HIGH-LEVEL PLENARY SEGMENT
Rashid Ahmed Mohammed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, UAE, called for moving past discussing HFC management challenges and focusing on generating solutions. He said further delay in achieving an HFC agreement would undermine efforts to mitigate climate change and recommended sending a strong message to UNFCCC COP 21.
Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, urged delegates to seize the opportunity to act on HFCs to honor and build on the Protocol’s legacy as the most successful MEA. He elaborated that acting on HFCs in Dubai would prove that the Protocol can take up new challenges.
Steiner then presented outgoing SAP Co-Chairs A.R. Ravishankara (US) and Ayite-Lo Nohende Ajavon (Togo) with awards honoring their contribution to the SAP, the Montreal Protocol, and ozone science as a whole. Fahad was also honored for his contribution, including in environmental decision-making in the region.
Mikkel Sorensen (Denmark), Acting MOP 26 President, said that while much has been achieved under the Protocol, parties should continue their efforts to address current and future dangers. He highlighted unfinished business, such as exemptions and the use of methyl bromide for quarantine and pre-shipment procedures.
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Election of officers for MOP 27: The MOP 27 Bureau was elected as follows: as President, Virginia Poter (Canada); as Vice Presidents, Rose Mkankomeje (Rwanda); Tumau Herowna Neru (Samoa); and Sabir Atadjanov (Kyrgyzstan); and as rapporteur, Elias Gómez (Dominican Republic).
Adoption of the agenda of the HLS of MOP 27: Delegates adopted the agenda (UNEP/OzL.Pro.27/1) without amendment.
Organization of work: Plenary agreed to commence the remainder of the HLS with a ministerial roundtable, followed by a presentation on the 2014 Quadrennial Assessment Synthesis Report, among other items.
Credentials of representatives: MOP 27 President Poter requested parties to submit credentials as soon as possible, saying that the Bureau will review them and report to Thursday’s plenary.
PRESENTATIONS BY THE ASSESSMENT PANELS ON THEIR SYNTHESIS OF THE 2014 QUADRENNIAL ASSESSMENTS: SAP Co-Chair Ravishankara presented the synthesis report. He noted overarching messages include that, due to the success of the Montreal Protocol: large increases in UV radiation have been prevented, except near the poles; ozone layer depletion has been reversed; and consumption of ODS has decreased, in contrast to all other major GHGs. He cautioned that some ODS alternatives are powerful GHGs, with potentially harmful effects, but stated that scientific and technological advances may offer solutions.
On a question regarding the aspects contributing to the success of the Protocol, Ravishankara, with Ashley Woodcock, Medical TOC Co-Chair, underscored the importance of “bringing science to the parties.” On studying the links between the replacement of HCFCs and HFCs and their effect on the ozone layer and climate change, Paul Newman, SAP Co-Chair, said that these are dealt with in greater depth in the report.
STATEMENTS BY HEADS OF DELEGATION AND DISCUSSION ON KEY TOPICS: A ministerial roundtable addressed, “How the institutions and mechanisms of the Montreal Protocol could assist parties in managing HFCs,” moderated by Ambassador Fernando Lugris, Uruguay. The roundtable began with a video on the role of HFCs in contributing to global warming.
Fahad recognized the establishment of the HFCs contact group as a positive step forward. Steiner recommended sending a clear signal to the marketplace to build industry’s confidence to develop the next generation of substances.
Gina McCarthy, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, recognized financing, high ambient temperatures and timeline as key issues to tackle in an HFC amendment, stressing the Montreal Protocol has the institutions and track record to overcome these issues. Xavier Sticker, Ambassador for the Environment, France, called for inclusiveness to jointly address HFCs, underscoring its political significance for UNFCCC COP 21. Expressing Australia’s “complete commitment” to flexibility, Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment, Australia, urged action on HFCs and the adoption of a “Dubai roadmap.”
Abdullahi Majeed, Minister of State for Environment and Energy, Maldives, underlined the need for low-GWP alternatives to ODS for cooling in the fisheries sector. Observing that Article 5 countries were in a different situation in the past, Manoj Kumar Singh, Ministery of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, India, identified intellectual property rights’ (IPR) negative effects on some countries’ manufacturing industries.
Panelists also discussed: the economic case for early action on HFCs; why HFCs phase-down within the Protocol does not conflict with the UNFCCC; MLF funding for second and third conversions; IPR; and the “Dubai roadmap” concept.
Participants then addressed whether to agree on principles and a framework first and negotiate details later, asking if the Protocol can address HFCs without amending the UNFCCC. Parties also raised issues related to patents on low-GWP alternatives to HFCs, and the value of the contact group discussions on HFCs.
Lugris closed the panel, suggesting that the spirit of friendliness and openness continue in the remaining MOP 27 discussions.
Statements from Heads of Delegation: SAUDIA ARABIA highlighted the need to consider high ambient temperature countries’ special requirements. CHINA welcomed consensus building on HFCs, noting the need to discuss grace periods, alternatives, legal matters, safety standards, exemptions, funding and technologies. BAHRAIN identified challenges, including funding, alternatives, and capacity building. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, with ETHIOPIA, supported discussion on an HFC amendment.
MEXICO urged parties to reach an historical agreement on HFCs. AUSTRALIA called on parties to address HFCs as an unintended consequence of ODS phase-out. JAPAN expressed commitment to work together on an HFC amendment. Noting the Protocol’s historic accomplishments, the EU indicated that, despite not having all the answers, parties acted, encouraging similar action on HFCs. SINGAPORE reflected that parties’ flexibility, cooperation and willingness to reach consensus is critical to achieving the Protocol’s goals and urged continued steps forward. NIGERIA expressed support for addressing HFCs, including through leapfrogging to climate-friendly technologies.
CANADA underscored the need for the MLF to provide financial assistance to Article 5 countries. SUDAN, with RWANDA, called for synergies among MEAs. IRAN suggested exploiting synergies between the Protocol and the UNFCCC, while avoiding conflicts in domains of responsibilities.
ZIMBABWE, with MALAYSIA, called for more work on alternative technologies in the refrigeration sector. GHANA shared challenges encountered during dismantling of refrigeration, calling for support for a regional foam destruction center to address the issue. THE PHILIPPINES called for training for service providers and users to eliminate leakages in HCFCs and methyl bromide.
GUATEMALA supported addressing illicit trade in HCFCs and methyl bromide. MALDIVES, with PALAU, urged attention on low-GWP alternatives for the fisheries sector.
TIMOR LESTE reiterated that small developing countries face technological, financial and organizational challenges. SYRIA acknowledged that the crisis plaguing his country has diminished capacity to address environmental problems.
CONTACT GROUPS AND INFORMAL DISCUSSIONS
INFORMAL GROUP ON ASSESSMENT PANELS’ QUADRENNIAL ASSESSMENTS: The group continued its discussion on UNEP/OzL.Pro.27/CRP.1. Participants debated, inter alia, whether to encourage the assessment panels to keep parties informed of any important new developments, with one party opposing such encouragement. Another participant observed that the text responds to continual requests by parties for new developments, such as on alternatives.
A few opposed reference to environmental processes. Several said the CRP is in line with the Convention’s text and the Panel’s customary reports. One participant pointed out the difficulty of removing the word “environment,” noting that the Panel itself is called the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel and the Protocol is hosted under UNEP. Panel representatives expressed concern about “broad” references, saying the Panel relies on the MOP for guidance. Following protracted discussion, participants compromised by agreeing to refer to “those factors stipulated in Article 3 of the Vienna Convention.”
Participants did not finalize the text.
TEAP REPORT ON ALTERNATIVES TO ODS: This group discussed UNEP/OzL.Pro.27/CRP.8. Acknowledging apprehensions from Tuesday’s plenary, the CRP’s proponents specified that it does not intend to presuppose the outcome of the HFC management contact group, stating that the contact group has not yet made specific requests to the TEAP.
The group stated that discussions would continue informally, and addressed, inter alia: referencing alternatives to high-GWP ODS or HFCs, including economic and social costs; involving all assessment panels, or only the TEAP; and providing sufficient time for the TEAP to prepare an assessment. The group also considered: that the TEAP has not previously conducted specific options for phase-down scenarios; TEAP’s position to provide a definition of high ambient temperatures; whether an assessment could provide information on funding needs; and additional workloads if the business-as-usual scenarios were extended to 2050.
HFCs MANAGEMENT CONTACT GROUP: The contact group reconvened in the afternoon, with further discussion on what financial support items need to be addressed under an amendment, including inter alia: “early funding” for enabling activities; training; methodologies for calculating conversion costs; new reporting obligations on by-products; patent costs and licensing fees; plant closings; lost profits; collection and disposal; and levels of support for low-level consumption countries. Several delegations suggested developing a list and classifying what should be dealt with by MOP guidance to the ExCom and what should be included in an amendment text. One urged caution concerning the level of detail to include in any guidance to ExCom.
The group revisited issues of flexibility in implementation, with general agreement on needing a country-driven approach with flexibility in technology choices and prioritizing sectors and substances. The group also discussed: IPR; disposal; exemptions; and the relationship with UNFCCC.
IN THE CORRIDORS
The opening of the HLS on the MOP’s penultimate day reflected on how far parties have come since developing “the world’s most successful MEA,” with one speaker terming it the “greatest planetary repair job” ever. Several reflected, however, that the Protocol’s work is not yet done, expressing hope that its successful past could provide momentum for its future, perhaps in the form of what some termed a “Dubai roadmap” that could pave the way on the “crossroads” issue of HFC management.
While HFC management continues to prove the most contentious issue, some participants alluded to a turning tide. Several welcomed the host country’s recognition of needing to address the issue. One seasoned participant quoted an Arab proverb, “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow,” implying parties are aware of where they need to move but need to agree on how to get there. Another participant emphasized that, despite the “difficult journey,” the Protocol had still reached the point at which it could make history once again, if late night informals are successful.
ENB SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS: The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary and analysis of Montreal Protocol MOP 27 will be available on Sunday, 8 November 2015, online at: http://enb.iisd.org/ozone/oewg36-resumed-mop27/