Speed is vital when it comes to climate protection. Immediate action to cut HFCs could contribute much to keep the global temperature rise to under 1.5°C. Enacting a global phase-down of HFCs could yield up to 100 billion tonnes of emissions reductions by mid-century, and up to 200 billion tonnes if we make a parallel effort to improve the efficiency of the appliances using HFCs as refrigerants. Around the world, the vision for a future without HFCs is becoming a reality as governments move ahead with plans to phase down production and consumption under the Montreal Protocol.
ECO has some recommendations to MOP negotiators to ensure a fabulous going away party for HFCs this year:
- Fix a time and date: We need a swift global agreement to address the consumption and production of HFCs. An extraordinary MOP is scheduled in Vienna (22-23 July) to finalise the HFC agreement, where Parties should seal the deal.
- Set a party theme or mood: ECO suggests the theme “high ambition” for this gathering. Each guest has to come with the highest ambition. The resumed 37th and 38th OEWG meetings in Vienna just before the extraordinary MOP is the perfect place to lay the groundwork and prepare for the party.
- Ensure supplies: Developed nations are obliged to contribute to financing the transitions of developing nations and to assist with technology transfer. Current proposals to phase down HFCs under the MOP follow this successful pattern.
- Consider making the party a potluck: Under its Multilateral Fund (MLF) the Montreal Protocol supports developing nations through finance and technology transfer. Developed countries should bring additional MLF funding to the party to make it a success, as the Nordic Leaders and the U.S. just announced they would.
- Recruit helpers: Since you are expecting a large crowd to say goodbye to HFCs, it is key to continue supporting your network of ozone officers to implement the phase-down schedules at national level.
ECO urges all Parties to support an ambitious HFC phase-down to make negotiations under the Montreal Protocol a great farewell party for HFCs. (Rain date: October in Kigali, Rwanda at the regular MOP.)
ECO welcomes the G7 environment ministers’ commitment to develop and communicate their long-term low-GHG emission development strategies “as soon as possible” and before 2020. The G7 should also show leadership by using good long-term planning to bid our carbon-based economies a rapid retirement. Here are six key steps they should take:
1. Take action now
Financial planning 101 is easy: you can’t wait until you’re old to start preparing for retirement! The G7 needs to commit to developing their long-term low-GHG emissions strategies this year, and call for the other G20 members to do the same by 2018. By respecting this timeline, the collective impact of the decarbonisation strategies are an important step towards the 2018 facilitative dialogue. This provides the basis for assessing the revised NDCs being put forward no later than 2020, on the basis of equity and the latest science.
2. Plan consistently with your objectives
If Parties are truly committed to keeping temperature increases well below 1.5ºC, then immediate action in all sectors and long-term development trajectories need to be consistent with this goal.
3. Maximise co-benefits
Long-term decarbonisation strategies are key in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, and come with the added bonus of co-benefits. This includes improved public health, energy security, access and reduced fuel costs, to name a few.
4. Increase synergies
A little bit of foresight and planning will go a long way by enabling greater alignment between domestic and global short- and long-term goals. Countries can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, while avoiding high-carbon infrastructure lock-in by incorporating appropriate policies into national and local plans.
5. Send strong signals to the private sector
By taking the lead in signalling the end of a global economy built upon fossil fuels, and creating a positive policy framework for low/no-carbon investments, forward-thinking countries will help build investor confidence in climate-smart expenditures. In turn, these ramped-up levels of green investment will further reduce the costs of achieving deep decarbonisation.
6. Make decarbonisation plans participatory
These development strategies will impact, and require the full ownership of, the entire public. If these strategies are to be effective, their preparation must include full involvement by all sectors of civil society.
If ECO were in the business of writing horoscopes (we are in the business of writing quizzes though!), and if 13 and 40 were numbers to be avoided at all costs then today isn’t a good day for the Arctic.
Both the US and Nordic countries have signed the Paris Agreement and their leaders affirmed they are ready to work on implementation. In fact, at the recent US-Nordic Leaders’ Summit in Washington D.C., they declared that they will work together on managing the Arctic region with an ecosystem-based approach, balancing conservation and sustainable use of the environment.
In light of these good intentions, it was a surprise to learn that Norway has just awarded 13 companies a staggering 40 licenses for oil and gas exploration in the Barents Sea. Drilling into the Arctic could also be seen as Parties drilling holes into the commitments adopted in Paris.
This area deep in the Arctic waters is one of the world’s most fragile regions. These new licenses are in addition to existing Russian activity in their part of the Barents Sea, where oil is already being pumped offshore at a large scale.
All countries must act in accordance with their pledges from Paris and promptly phase out fossil fuels as soon as they can, especially those who are among the richest in both money and capacity. Yes, Norway, we are looking at you. Is it not enough that you are drilling for fossil fuels in the Arctic, and dumping mining waste into fragile ecosystems? Do you really need to give out more and more permits to continue the destruction?
To make the goals of the Paris Agreement a reality, and to reach the 1.5ºC target, will require massive and transformative efforts. Any additional fossil fuel drilling only undermines our common goal, leaving huge quantities of stranded assets in the coming years and long lasting climate impacts affecting all, especially the most vulnerable.
What’s next: are you one day going to drill us too?