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EU set to ratify Kigali greenhouse gas amendment

17 July 2017, 22:35 CET
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EU set to ratify Kigali greenhouse gas amendment

Image courtesy of NASA

(BRUSSELS) - The European Union adopted Monday a decision to conclude the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol that ensures protection of the climate from the powerful HFC greenhouse gases.

The decision means the EU is now ready for formal ratification of the Kigali Amendment, which was agreed 15 October 2016, to achieve a global reduction in the consumption and production of HFCs. Although greenhouse gases do not damage the ozone layer, their release into the atmosphere contributes to climate change and they have a significant impact on global warming.

Implementation is expected to prevent warming of up to 0.5° Celsius by the end of the century - making a positive contribution to reaching the targets of the Paris agreement.

"HFCs are thousands of times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide," said Estonia's Environment minister Siim Kiisler, for the EU presidency: "I very much welcome today's decision to be among the first to ratify the Kigali amendment to cut these greenhouse gases and continue our unwavering commitment to tackling climate change. This is an issue where international cooperation is crucial. Taking the Montreal Protocol as a model, the EU is ready to make sure this amendment is also a success."

HFCs can be found in equipment and products used in our daily lives such as fridges, air conditioners, foams and aerosol sprays. They were introduced as an alternative to ozone depleting substances, mainly hydrochlorofluorocarbons.

The Kigali Amendment sets out a number of steps to be taken by the parties to the Montreal Protocol, in accordance with their economic and social development, to gradually reduce the use of HFCs. EU Member States, like other developed countries, are required to start the first reductions in 2019.

However, the EU has taken early action and is at the forefront of compliance. The regulation adopted in 2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases enabled the EU to already begin phasing down HFCs in 2015. This regulation will have to be reviewed to comply with the Kigali Amendment beyond 2030.

Until then, current EU legislation can still apply. In fact, it not only fulfils the Montreal Protocol obligations, but also provides for a stricter phase-down schedule compared with the measures to be in place under the new amendment.

The Council decision enters into force immediately after its adoption. The EU has now to formally deposit the declaration of competence together with the instrument of ratification of the Kigali amendment at the United Nations.

Member states are currently following their respective ratification processes considering that they also need to obtain approval from their national parliaments.

The Amendment will enter into force on 1 January 2019 upon ratification by at least 20 states or regional economic integration organisations that are parties to the Montreal Protocol. If this threshold is not reached by then, the Amendment will enter into force on the 90th day following the date on which this condition has been finally fulfilled.

Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 17-18/07/2017

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