Remarks at the North American Proposal on HFC Phasedown
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Thank you Madame Co-Chair. I appreciate the opportunity to speak, along with my colleagues from Canada and Mexico, to our amendment proposal to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol. The benefits of this proposal are substantial, amounting to almost 100 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2)-equivalent in direct benefits by 2050. We need to ensure that we achieve gains in energy efficiency as we reduce our reliance on high-global warming potential (GWP) HFCs, as we have in previous transitions. This will increase the benefits even further.
The Montreal Protocol Parties have taken the key decisions that need to be made to ensure ozone layer protection is achieved, and now those decisions are being implemented. We know that because of our efforts, we will see the ozone layer recover in the middle of this century.
The question we face now is what the implications of those decisions will be for the climate system. Are we to ignore the potential to exacerbate the problem of global climate change that ozone depleting substance (ODS) replacements may cause? I think not—already in our decision in 2007 to accelerate the phaseout of hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) we acknowledged the importance of this issue. We believe that we must act now to avoid depleting the significant store of climate benefits we have built up already under the Montreal Protocol, just as we are seeking to avoid depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer.
After careful thought, we believe the Montreal Protocol is well suited to this purpose for several reasons.
First, the Montreal Protocol has institutions in the Technical and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) and the Scientific Assessment Panel (SAP) that have 2
been built to address exactly this type of problem. They provide Parties with information about science, technology, and economics that ensure policy choices are well-informed, and they could do the same to support an HFC phasedown.
Second, for the last two decades, the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund has supported the efforts of Article 5 countries to comply with Protocol obligations. Robust political commitments combined with effective financial support have resulted in broadly effective implementation in all Parties.
Third, the Protocol Parties and its stakeholders know and understand the industries and technologies involved in ODS sectors, which are identical to areas of HFC use. This unparalleled expertise of governments, stakeholders, and institutions has created a community that is well informed of the technological possibilities and limitations that we face.
Last, the Protocol has a successful model to address intentionally-produced substances by gradually reducing production and consumption over time. This model has sent clear signals that climate- and ozone-friendly alternatives are needed, and innovation and investment have found solutions. The level of industry support for the agreement and investment in alternatives is a key factor in its success.
Let me also note that all of our Ministers agreed in the outcome from Rio + 20 to support a gradual phasedown in the consumption and production of HFCs. The words "production" and "consumption" are metrics of the Montreal Protocol. We agree with and recognize the importance of the statement from Rio + 20, and like our Ministers, we are ready to get started to make this happen today, using a mechanism that we know can be successful in achieving our goals in preventing the rapid growth in high-GWP HFCs.
Thank you Madame Co-chair, and may I reiterate the interest of my delegation in finding a further opportunity at this meeting – in addition to this plenary discussion this afternoon -- to discuss our proposal as well as others that seek to come to grips with this critical issue.