Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Through analysis and dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is working with governments and stakeholders to identify practical and effective options for the post-2012 international climate framework. Read more
Key Issues in Completing
By Jennifer Huang and Anthony Mansell
The Paris Agreement establishes an international framework to strengthen the global response to climate change. Governments are now negotiating operational aspects of the agreement, including details of the transparency framework; a five-year cycle to review collective progress and update parties’ contributions; and the agreement’s market-related provisions. These implementing decisions are due to be adopted at the first session of the agreement’s governing body, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, known as the CMA. With the agreement’s rapid entry into force, CMA 1 will open at COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, earlier than anticipated; it likely will be extended beyond COP 22 to allow more time to complete the decisions. This brief outlines the Paris Agreement’s core provisions, major issues still to be decided, and some of the options before parties.
Linking Non-State Action with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
By David Wei, Associate Director,
The 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) catalyzed an unprecedented showing of climate action and commitment by a wide range of non-state actors, including businesses and investors, subnational governments, and civil society organizations. Governments took a number of steps in Paris to engage non-state actors more directly through the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Many stakeholder groups are working to further strengthen the contributions of non-state actors to the global climate effort, and at COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, two high-level “champions” will report on implementation of a new Action Agenda. This brief outlines recent steps to strengthen the visibility of non-state action in the UNFCCC and options for more closely linking the two.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is considered the world’s most successful international environmental treaty.
Under the Protocol, nations phased out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – a class of compounds that were used mostly in aerosol sprays, refrigerants, foams and as solvents, and were damaging the protective ozone layer that shields the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Recent evidence shows that the ozone hole over Antarctica is beginning to repair itself because of efforts under the Protocol to reduce ozone-depleting substances.
Because ozone-depleting substances and many of their substitutes are also potent greenhouse gases, their phase-out under the Montreal Protocol is critical to international efforts to address climate change.
Following nearly a decade of talks, a landmark agreement was reached October 15, 2016, at the 28th Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda, to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), CFC substitutes that, while not harmful to the ozone layer, are a fast-growing source of potent greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.
HFCs are widely used in refrigeration and air conditioning, foam blowing, and other applications. Though they now account for less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, HFCs are extremely potent greenhouse gases whose use is projected to grow rapidly, particularly in developing countries.
The Kigali Amendment sets out a schedule of targets and timetables for all developed and developing countries to phase down their use of HFCs. The amendment links these control requirements with a renewed commitment by developed countries to provide financial support for developing countries through the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund. The agreement sets out key principles for how the fund will transition from supporting projects aimed at safeguarding the ozone layer to spurring action focused on climate protection.
Because HFCs have a relatively short atmospheric lifetime (compared to carbon dioxide), their phasedown could reduce temperature changes in 2100 by an estimated 0.5 degrees Celsius. These reductions are critical to meeting the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement to keep warming well below 2 degrees.
The Montreal Protocol is a part of the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which commits its 197 parties to protect human health and environment against “adverse effects” of human-induced changes to the ozone layer.
The Montreal Protocol, which was adopted in 1987 and entered into force in 1989, limits the consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances. Since its entry into force, the Montreal Protocol has phased out over 98 percent of the world’s consumption of ozone-depleting substances.
- Blog: Nations agree on historic HFC phasedown
- Bob Perciasepe's statement
- Not-in-Kind Alternatives to High Global Warming HFCs (2016)
- Status of Legal Challenges: Patents Related to the Use of HFO1234YF in Auto Air Conditioning (2016)
- Ten Myths About Intellectual Property Rights and the Montreal Protocol (2016)
- Approaches to Structuring a High Ambient Temperature Exemption (2016)
- Technological Change in the Production Sector under the Montreal Protocol (2015)
- Patents and the Role of the Multilateral Fund (2015)
- Addressing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
Nations came together Saturday and agreed to take a big bite out of future increases in global temperatures. Following nearly a decade of talks, a landmark agreement to phase down hyrofluorocarbons (HFCs) was reached at the conclusion of the 28th Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol in Rwanda.
The Kigali Amendment sets out a schedule of targets and timetables for all developed and developing countries to phase down their use of HFCs,a family of industrial chemicals used worldwide in air conditioners and refrigeration that are one of the most potent and rapidly expanding greenhouse gases.
The amendment links these control requirements with a renewed commitment by developed countries to provide financial support for developing countries through the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund. The agreement sets out key principles for how the fund will transition from supporting projects aimed at safeguarding the ozone layer to spurring action focused on climate protection.
Curbing HFCs is a relatively inexpensive way to achieve significant near-term reductions in climate pollution and is essential to achieving the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius. More than 100 nations came together at the recent U.N. General Assembly to press for an ambitious reduction schedule.
In the final stages of negotiations in Kigali, it was clear that only a few countries stood in opposition. To break the logjam, the agreement provided the flexibility for reluctant developing countries (India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf States) to meet a phasedown schedule with a baseline and reduction steps delayed by four years. It also included a separate provision for an alternative baseline and compliance schedule for Russia, Belarus and several neighboring countries.
Phasing down HFCs offers a unique opportunity for a significant double win for the climate. HFCs themselves are a potent, fast-growing climate pollutant. Reducing HFCs can reduce global warming by as much as 0.5 degrees by the end of the century. Because they are widely used in rapidly expanding, high energy-consuming refrigeration and air conditioning sectors, the transition to alternatives also provides an opportunity to reduce climate change through enhanced energy efficiency.
The Kigali Amendment seeks to capture these benefits first through a fast start fund created by 19 philanthropic groups and individuals who have contributed $53 million to move from HFCs to more energy-efficient alternatives.
In addition, a decision reached in Kigali calls for the Multilateral Fund, in developing and supporting projects shifting to alternatives, to fund investments aimed at maintaining and enhancing energy efficiency.
The adoption of the HFC amendment is an important accomplishment, but much work lies ahead in making a successful transition to energy-efficient, low or zero global warming alternatives. For example, hydrocarbon refrigerants and foam blowing agents represent important alternatives, but because they are flammable, changes in national and industry standards and codes will be required to ensure that they can be used safely. The Parties agreed on a decision aimed at facilitating the necessary revisions to standards and codes and supporting enhanced training of air conditioning and refrigeration technicians in the safe use of these alternatives through the Multilateral Fund.
Hydrofluorooleinfs (HFOs) are also a family of chemical substitutes to replace HFCs. India and China raised concerns about whether patents held by transnational chemical companies on the production and use of HFOs would block their access to them. Over the coming years the availability of HFOs will need to be advanced through expanding commercial arrangements between companies, which could be facilitated by financial support from the Multilateral Fund.
The Kigali Amendment on HFCs caps an extraordinary couple of weeks for global climate protection. Enough countries have ratified the Paris Agreement that it has already met its conditions to formally enter into force. In addition, a path-breaking agreement was reached to limit emissions from international air travel.
After years of slow and difficult global efforts to address climate change, these recent developments demonstrate a new and stronger commitment to tackle the near and present danger of this critical threat to our global community.
Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
October 15, 2016
On the agreement in Kigali, Rwanda, to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), one of the most potent and fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases.
Less than a year after the Paris Agreement, and just a week after a new pact limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, today’s agreement in Kigali completes a powerful trifecta of international accords combating climate change. This step alone can help avoid half a degree of warming by century’s end.
The United States again helped set the stage for agreement, adopting strong domestic regulations to limit HFCs and pressing other nations to commit to an ambitious timeline for freezing and phasing down use of these powerful climate pollutants. In an unprecedented move, foundations and other philanthropists also pledged $53 million to help developing countries move from HFCs to more energy-efficient alternatives.
Over nearly three decades, the Montreal Protocol has virtually eliminated the substances that were damaging the Earth’s protective ozone layer. With strong support from the private sector, nations are now taking the next step by enlisting the Protocol to dramatically reduce the impact of HFCs on our climate.
For more information: Read C2ES Senior Advisor Stephen Seidel's blog
To speak to a C2ES expert, please contact Laura Rehrmann at email@example.com
About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address our energy and climate challenges. Learn more at www.c2es.org.
Post-Election: The Outlook for U.S. Climate Policy
November 16, 2016
6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
IETA Pavilion, Blue Zone
The future of U.S. climate policy will depend heavily on the outcome of the Presidential and Congressional elections on Nov. 8. U.S. policymakers and business leaders will provide their perspectives on what this pivotal election means for climate progress in Washington and at the state level.
Senior Advisor, Government Relations
Senior Professional Staff
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Secretary for Environmental Protection
Executive Vice President, Public Policy and External Affairs
Edison Electric Institute
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
U.S. Center, Blue Zone
Charting a Low-Carbon Course for the U.S. Economy, co-sponsored with EEI
November 15, 2016,
4 p.m. -- 5:30 p.m.
U.S. Center, Blue Zone
American business understands that there is both opportunity in getting ahead of the climate curve, and considerable risk and cost to inaction. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) hosts this side event to showcase the actions of mainstream US businesses, including those who have signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, and are members of the C2ES Business Environmental Leadership Council, a group of 30 companies with a combined $2.3 trillion in revenue and over 3 million employees that support mandatory climate policy and are acting to reduce emissions. Through a combination of presentations and panel discussion, senior officials from the Administration, C2ES, and Fortune 500 businesses will discuss how U.S. business leadership will help the U.S. and the world achieve its climate goals.
International negotiators are gathering in Kigali, Rwanda, with the goal of phasing down one of the most potent and rapidly expanding greenhouse gases affecting the climate.
Momentum is building for taking action on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a family of industrial chemicals used worldwide in air conditioners, refrigeration, foam products, and aerosols.
- On the sidelines of the recent U.N. General Assembly, more than 100 nations signed a declaration calling for an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to ambitiously deal with HFCs, with an early freeze date for developing countries and an early first reduction step for developed countries.
- To jump start the transition away from HFCs, 16 donor nations have offered $27 million in new and additional money for use by developing countries in limiting HFC use in 2017. Donor countries are also committing to support the longer-term phase-down costs under the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund.
- In an unprecedented move, a group of philanthropists (19 foundations and private individuals including Bill Gates and Tom Steyer) have offered an additional $53 million to developing countries to support efforts to move from HFCs to more energy-efficient alternatives.
- More than 500 companies and organizations issued a call to action in support of an ambitious agreement on an HFC phasedown at the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol October 10-14.
Action on HFCs is the single most significant step nations can take this year to advance the goal established in the Paris Agreement of limiting global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Estimates are that an ambitious HFC amendment would reduce global warming by as much as 0.5 degrees by the end of the century.
While momentum for an ambitious agreement this year is strong and building, it is by no means assured. Even with more than 100 nations on board, reaching an international consensus in Kigali will not be easy.
A large number of developed and developing countries have supported a developing country freeze in HFC use beginning around 2021, but India has supported a 2030 freeze date and Gulf Cooperation Council countries proposed a 2028 freeze.
Issues under discussion include the costs and availability of alternatives, the role and timing of patent protections, the rules governing support of projects under the Multilateral Fund, and the need for updated standards for the safe handling and use of more flammable refrigerant alternatives. While there is general support for incorporating enhanced energy efficiency into the transition away from HFCs, there are questions about the ways to achieve this objective.
Solutions are on the table for all of these issues. Given progress to date and the financial resources now available to developing countries to support an ambitious HFC amendment, agreement in Kigali is well within reach. The costs of acting to reduce HFCs are small compared to the very real and present costs of inaction to limit changes to our climate.
Legal Note: Could a Future President Reverse US Approval of the Paris Agreement?
By Daniel Bodansky
The Paris Agreement will soon enter into force. Like other treaties, the agreement includes provisions spelling out the manner in which a party may choose to exercise its right to withdraw. This note summarizes these provisions; relevant provisions of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); related international law; and related provisions and practices under U.S. law. It also looks beyond these legal considerations at the potential diplomatic ramifications should the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
After years of intense negotiations, governments have agreed on a framework for limiting greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation.
It’s the first climate agreement encompassing an entire sector of the global economy. It’s also the first to employ a market-based climate strategy across a global sector, which will help reduce emissions cost-effectively and expand international carbon markets.
International airline travel is among the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases. Aviation emissions are expected to triple by 2050 without additional action, making this agreement urgent.
Governments agreed earlier this year at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to phase in new standards for more efficient aircraft design. ICAO is also encouraging operational efficiencies, such as altering flight routes, and the development of lower-carbon fuels.
But these efforts alone won’t meet the goal set by airlines and governments: to freeze aviation emissions at 2020 levels.
That’s why the centerpiece of the ICAO agreement reached October 6 is a market-based measure that will allow airlines to offset any growth in their emissions beyond 2020 levels with reductions in other sectors.
A market-based approach gives businesses the flexibility to choose the most economically efficient way to reduce emissions, which ultimately saves money for consumers. Emissions reductions can be achieved at a lower cost outside the aviation sector, particularly given the projected growth in air traffic in coming decades.
Having an entire sector of the global economy using a market-based approach could spur governments to undertake market approaches in other sectors. The ICAO agreement also comes as nations work toward guidelines under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement to ensure the environmental integrity of offsets and avoid double counting.
Initially, participation in the ICAO program will be voluntary. The United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Singapore, and 44 European nations have committed to sign up from day one. Eventually the program will be extended to all countries, with the exception of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and those with only a minor share of global international aviation.
Each individual airline’s offsetting responsibility will be based at first on the overall sector’s emissions growth, to be fairer to fast-growing airlines, and then shift toward an individual airline’s emissions growth.
While the agreement provides an initial framework, details remain to be negotiated. For example, the agreement sets a deadline of 2018 to set Emissions Unit Criteria that will determine what types of offsets are eligible.
The ICAO agreement falls short of universal participation in its earliest stages, but still provides a sensible and practical framework that we can build on to reduce commercial aviation emissions and expand market-based approaches to climate change.