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


Countries chart pathways toward deeper decarbonization

Globally, countries are committing to near-term actions to address climate change and many, including Canada, Mexico, Germany and the U.S., are beginning to look much further ahead to the long-term strategies needed to reduce the significant risks of a changing climate. These strategies highlight options that can yield the necessary reductions to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

In addition, on Thursday the climate champions Laurence Tubiana and Hakima El Haite announced the 2050 Pathways Platform to support other countries in the development of their mid-century strategies. Twenty-two countries have signed up for the initiative, and many have indicated they will work toward their own strategies. In addition, 15 cities, 17 state and regions, and nearly 200 companies have joined the initiative to support national strategies.

All of the plans submitted thus far focus on technology pathways rather than specific policies. Another common element is a focus on changes to land use and forestry that can absorb some of the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. The strategies also prioritize which sectors of the economy really need to transform: energy, transportation, land-use and forest sequestration, and short-lived climate pollutants.

The decision to release the U.S, Canadian and Mexican mid-century strategies together at COP 22 in Marrakech was made at a joint leaders’ summit in Ottawa in June, building on the countries’ economic ties and shared energy and transport infrastructure.

In the U.S., there are three focus areas for achieving significant emission reductions: decarbonizing the energy sector, improving the U.S. land sink, and reducing emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases. The U.S. strategy identifies positive trends over the last decade in each of these areas, and puts forward priorities for strengthening those trends.

These priorities include improved efficiency throughout the energy system, transitioning almost completely to non-emitting energy sources (including nuclear and fossil fuel with capture capture technology for electricity generation), enhancing carbon sequestration on U.S. lands, developing negative emissions technology (BECCS, or Beneficial Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage), and reducing methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbon emissions.

The U.S. strategy does not give a preferred balance between these priorities, but does include model scenarios showing that overachieving on any one priority would mean other priorities would need to contribute less. For example, the analysis that underlies the strategy includes a scenario with no CO2 removal technology. If negative emission technologies do not become available, the U.S. could still meet its 2050 goal by creating a larger land sink and achieving larger reductions in the energy sector.

While the mid-century strategy does not specify policy recommendations, it does note that “a key priority for future policymakers is a transition to efficient carbon pricing over time,” either at a subnational or economy-wide level.

Mid-century strategies can guide the private sector to make long-term investments consistent with the 2050 goals. It may also provide a framework for collaboration between governments and cities, states, and companies around a vision for deep decarbonization. C2ES looks forward to working with businesses and governments at all levels to provide vital input to these strategies.

(Contributing author: C2ES Solutions Fellow Ashley Lawson)

Outcomes of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Marrakech

22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(COP 22)

November 7-18, 2016

Download the summary (PDF)

Despite looming uncertainties following the election of Donald Trump as the new U.S. president, governments meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, pushed forward with the freshly-minted Paris Agreement on climate change, setting 2018 as their deadline for completing the nuts-and-bolts decisions needed to fully implement the agreement.

Parties arrived in Marrakech buoyed by the agreement’s unexpectedly rapid entry into force, which took place November 4, only to be shocked a mere four days later by the election of Republican candidate Trump, who vowed during the campaign to “cancel” the Paris Agreement.

Questions and speculation about the implications of a Trump presidency dominated hallway chatter and media reporting. But inside the conference rooms and plenary halls, negotiations proceeded apace, with little evidence that the election results significantly altered the outcomes of the Marrakech conference.

In a high-level Marrakech Action Proclamation, parties collectively declared that the “extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide…is irreversible.” Similar messages were sounded continuously throughout the conference by businesses, cities, states and NGOs, and by heads of state and ministers from Africa, China, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The Marrakech meeting was the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as COP 22. It also served as the first meeting of the governing body of the Paris Agreement, known by the acronym CMA.

In the long evolutionary arc of the U.N. climate effort, Marrakech was an important transitional moment, pivoting from the years of negotiation that produced the Paris Agreement to a new phase focused on implementation.

Even apart from the new uncertainties injected by the U.S. election, it was clear in Marrakech that the transition is a challenging one, as perennial issues resurfaced in new guises. Chief among them is the nature of differentiation between developed and developing countries, with some developing nations pressing the kinds of bifurcated approaches that developed countries believed the Paris Agreement had laid to rest.

There was no expectation heading into Marrakech that such issues would be resolved there. Rather, the aim was to better understand the many issues involved in fleshing out the Paris architecture, delineate the areas of convergence and divergence, and adopt a work plan to get to final decisions by 2018 – goals that were largely achieved.

With no clear signal from President-elect Trump or his team whether he indeed plans to abandon the Paris Agreement, parties headed home from Marrakech hoping the United States remains at the table when negotiations resume in Bonn, Germany, in May.

Following are background on the negotiations and a summary of key outcomes:


The landmark Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 marked a dramatic turn in the global climate effort, establishing a new framework combining “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) with new multilateral mechanisms aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability and promoting greater ambition over time.

Although the agreement was designed to apply from 2020 onwards, the unprecedented political momentum on display in Paris carried into 2016, with countries moving more quickly than anticipated to ratify the agreement and bring it into force. In the case of the United States, President Obama was able to accept the agreement through executive action, without seeking Senate advice and consent, because it elaborates the UNFCCC (which received Senate approval) and is consistent with domestic law, and because countries’ emission targets are not binding.

The threshold for entry into force – formal acceptance by 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions – was reached October 4 and the agreement took effect one month later. By the close of the Marrakech conference, it had been ratified by 111 countries representing more than three-fourths of global emissions.

The agreement defines parties’ basic obligations and establishes new procedures and mechanisms. But for these to be fully operational, their details must be further elaborated. This requires the adoption by parties of an extensive set of decisions known loosely as the “Paris rulebook.”


Further decisions are required on a wide range of topics, including mitigation, adaptation, finance, transparency, a new “global stocktake” process, market mechanisms, and implementation and compliance.

The Paris Agreement and an accompanying COP decision assigned responsibility for developing these decisions to multiple bodies, chief among them the newly established Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA). (Others include two standing bodies: the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technology Advice, or SBSTA, and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation, or SBI.)

In most cases, however, the Paris Agreement did not specify a deadline for completing the decisions, saying only that they were to be adopted at CMA 1 – the first meeting of the agreement’s new governing body. With the agreement now in force, CMA 1 had to open in Marrakech, but no decisions were ready for adoption. To finesse this unanticipated procedural wrinkle, parties decided to extend CMA 1 beyond Marrakech. They also resolved that the decisions are to be ready “at the latest” when CMA 1 resumes at COP 24 in 2018. The COP and CMA will meet jointly at COP 23 in 2017 to review progress.

In subgroups, parties engaged in extensive informal consultations on the issues, offering initial, and in many cases conflicting, views of how different provisions should be elaborated. The only concrete outcomes, however, were procedural in nature, with parties adopting work plans for carrying the discussions forward. These will entail new written submissions from parties, technical workshops and facilitated roundtable discussions.


The Paris decision calls for further guidance to parties on: the features of NDCs, the up-front information to be provided by parties when communicating future NDCs, and parties’ accounting of their NDCs. One major challenge is how to develop guidance that takes into account the different types of NDCs parties have put forward (e.g., absolute emission targets, intensity-based targets, etc.). Some developing countries argued that in some areas, such as up-front information, requirements should be different for developed and developing countries, a view strongly opposed by developed countries.


Within the APA, parties began discussing the periodic “adaptation communications” they are encouraged to submit under the Paris Agreement, outlining their adaptation needs and/or efforts. They discussed the possible elements of these communications and their potential links to the transparency system and the global stocktake. In parallel, the Adaptation Committee began considering how developing country adaptation efforts will be “recognized,” and how to regularly assess the adequacy and effectiveness of adaptation efforts and support.


The Paris Agreement requires developed countries to provide biennial reports on financial support provided or mobilized through “public interventions,” and on projected levels of future support. In Marrakech, SBSTA began considering how to account for public finance. Issues include whether the accounting should apply only to flows from developed to developing countries or to broader flows of public finance.


The Paris Agreement establishes an enhanced transparency framework with reporting and review obligations for all parties and “built-in flexibility” for developing countries with limited capacity. This framework is to build on existing UNFCCC transparency processes, which are different for developed and developing countries. A major issue is whether the “flexibility” built into the Paris framework will continue this bifurcated approach – a view advanced by some developing countries and adamantly rejected by developed countries. This promises to be a major point of contention through 2018. A related issue is whether requirements should instead be tailored to different types of NDCs.

Global Stocktake

The Paris Agreement establishes a “global stocktake” every five years starting in 2023 to assess collective progress toward the agreement’s long-term goals. The stocktakes will set the stage for parties’ submission of successive rounds of NDCs. In Marrakech, parties began discussing how to structure the stocktake, including its format, inputs, timeline, duration, and output, and its linkage to other elements of the Paris architecture.

Implementation and Compliance

The Paris Agreement establishes a new 12-member expert committee to “facilitate implementation” and “promote compliance” in a “facilitative” and “non-punitive” manner. The APA began considering issues including:

  • The scope of the mechanism – for example, whether it will consider only parties’ binding procedural obligations or the achievement of NDCs, which are not binding;
  • How the mechanism will be triggered – for example, whether a party can ask the committee to examine another party’s compliance; and
  • How parties’ varied circumstances and capabilities will be taken into account.

Market and Non-Market Mechanisms

SBSTA began consideration of two market-related provisions of the Paris Agreement: a requirement that parties using internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs) to meet their NDCs ensure no double counting of transferred units; and the creation of a new mechanism contributing to mitigation and sustainable development that may, like the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, generate tradable emission units. The Paris Agreement also calls for a framework for non-market approaches, and parties began exploring what it could encompass. Ideas included some type of coordination of policies such as feed-in tariffs and fossil fuel subsidy reforms.

“Orphan” issues

One of the most contentious items in Marrakech was how to treat a set of so-called orphan issues that are referenced in the Paris Agreement but not assigned to the APA or another body for further consideration. These issues include whether to establish common timeframes for NDCs (parties adopted different timeframes in the first round); any rules around the adjustment by parties of their NDCs; and the development of a new collective finance goal beyond 2025. Unable to agree on any specific direction, parties simply asked the APA to continue its consideration of “possible additional matters relating to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”


Beyond developing the Paris rulebook, parties took actions and made announcements on a range of other issues, including:

Adaptation Fund

One holdover issue from Paris was whether the Adaptation Fund established under the Kyoto Protocol, which provides adaptation support to developing countries, would continue under the Paris Agreement. Although developed countries would prefer to channel support through the newly establish Green Climate Fund, developing countries pushed very hard to keep the Adaptation Fund alive. Parties decided the fund “should serve the Paris Agreement,” pending decisions on governance and other issues.

2018 Facilitative Dialogue

In Paris, anticipating that the Paris Agreement would not be in force for several years, parties decided to conduct an early stocktake through a “facilitative dialogue” in 2018. (The next round of NDCs is due in 2019/20.) In Marrakech, parties asked the presidencies of COP 22 and COP 23 to jointly undertake consultations on how to organize the facilitative dialogue, and to report back at COP 23.

Mid-century Strategies

The Paris Agreement encourages countries to prepare and submit “long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” outlining the kinds of actions needed to achieve much deeper emission reductions. In Marrakech, Canada, Germany, Mexico, and the United States became the first countries to submit what have come to be known as mid-century strategies. A new initiative called the 2050 Pathway Platform was launched, with support from a broad array of national governments, cities, states, and companies, to help other countries develop their own mid-century strategies.


Heading into Marrakech, developed countries released a roadmap outlining how they foresee meeting the goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year in public and private finance for developing countries by 2020. In Marrakech, the UNFCCC’s Standing Committee on Finance released its second biennial assessment, showing that total global climate finance increased 15 percent in 2013-14, reaching a high-bound estimate of $741 billion in 2014.

Countries and others announced a variety of new financial pledges, including:

Loss and Damage

Parties conducted the first review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM). The mechanism, established as an interim body at COP 19 and subsequently brought under the Paris Agreement, is charged with developing approaches to help vulnerable countries cope with unavoidable climate impacts, including extreme weather events and slow-onset events such as sea-level rise. The next review will take place in 2019, and further reviews will be conducted on a five-year cycle, which could align with the global stocktakes.


Negotiations will resume at the annual Subsidiary Bodies meeting, set for May 8-18, 2017, in Bonn, Germany. Fiji will assume the COP presidency at COP 23, to be held November 6-17, 2017, in Bonn. Poland will host COP 24, set for November 5-16, 2018.

Businesses continue to lead on climate

Business leaders at COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, explain how investments in clean energy and efficiency make good sense for everyone. L to R: Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President, C2ES; Cathy Woollums, Senior Vice President, Environmental Services and Chief Environmental Counsel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy; Nanette Lockwood, Global Director, Policy and Advocacy, Ingersoll Rand; Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director, Mars Incorporated; Tamara “TJ” DiCaprio, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, Microsoft.

Businesses have invested billions in clean energy and efficiency because it makes business sense.

At a side event at the U.N. climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco, leaders of major companies reiterated the benefits of those investments – for their companies, customers, the environment and the economy -- and said they will keep moving toward sustainability.

“We see a clear business case for this,” said Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director at Mars Inc. The global food and candy company has committed to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 2040. Working toward energy efficiency helps the company cut costs, he said, but also motivates employees who are working toward a higher purpose.

“These targets, these programs, these goals need to transcend individual leaders, be they in government or in corporations,” Rabinovitch said. “We’re solving long-term problems. We need to put structures and systems in place that are consistent and durable.”

“You’re now looking at decades of investment. Businesses are not going to walk away from this,” said Nanette Lockwood, Global Director, Policy and Advocacy at Ingersoll Rand. The maker of air conditioners and refrigeration systems has committed to invest $500 million by 2020 to develop alternative refrigerants to HFCs and to reduce emissions by 50 million metric tons by 2030. “Once we set a direction and we create value and markets, we continue down that path.”

The C2ES event, co-sponsored with the Edison Electric Institute, featured senior representatives from Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Ingersoll Rand, Mars and Microsoft. They are among the more than 150 U.S. firms that have committed to specific climate actions as part of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.

“Microsoft is committed to its sustainability goals, to its clean energy goals. Our investments in innovation in this area are good not only for the environment, but also for our business and for the economy,” said Tamara “TJ” DiCaprio, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft, whose operations have been carbon neutral since 2012. Microsoft uses an internal carbon fee to fund energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable communities.

As the largest regulated owner of renewable energy generation in the U.S., Berkshire Hathaway Energy has invested more than $15 billion in renewable projects, and has pledged to invest up to another $15 billion going forward.

“We can bring renewable solutions to our customers at very low cost and sometimes no additional cost,” said Cathy Woollums, Senior Vice President for Environmental Services and Chief Environmental Counsel. “It’s a win for the environment; it’s a win for our customers; and it’s a win for us.”

In a C2ES statement released in October when the Paris Agreement reached the threshold for entry into force, 11 leading companies said they are “committed to working on our own and in partnership with governments to mobilize the technology, investment and innovation needed to transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy.” The statement notes that the Paris Agreement facilitates stronger private sector action by providing long-term direction, promoting transparency, addressing competitiveness, and facilitating carbon pricing.

Speakers at the event agreed on the importance of consistency, transparency and partnerships moving forward. The Paris Agreement, with nearly all of the world’s nations committing to move in the same direction, is sending signals that the business and investment community are internalizing in their long-term investing and decision-making. And working together with cities and states, and other companies, helps them share best practices and go further, faster to reach their goals.

A lot of the progress that has been made, especially in the United States, in reducing emissions has been driven by market and technology forces, and those forces will continue even in the absence of federal action on climate change.

Asked what will change under the new U.S. administration, Woollums said, “We need to give the new administration a chance to develop rational policies. The President-elect understands business. To the extent that the things that we’ve been doing make business sense, we will continue to do those things.”


Major companies back Paris Agreement

Media Advisory

November 15, 2016


US: Laura Rehrmann,, 703-516-0621

Marrakech: Anthony Mansell,, 202-384-0774 (cell) 

Major companies back Paris Agreement

Hear from companies at livestreamed event today

MARRAKECH – At an event today at COP 22 in Marrakech, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) will highlight climate action by business, including a recent statement signed by 11 leading corporations in support of the Paris Agreement.

The event, to be held at the U.S. Center at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, will feature remarks by senior representatives of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Ingersoll Rand, Mars and Microsoft. They are among the more than 150 U.S. firms that have committed to specific climate actions as part of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.

The event occurs at 4 p.m. Marrakech time (11 a.m. EST) and will be livestreamed. 

C2ES Executive Vice President Elliot Diringer will highlight a statement organized by C2ES and signed by 11 major companies based or with major operations in the United States welcoming the Paris Agreement's entry into force, and pledging to work with governments to implement their contributions.

The statement, released when the threshold for entry into force was reached in October, says the Paris Agreement establishes “an inclusive, pragmatic and, hopefully, durable framework for progressively strengthening efforts globally to address the causes and consequences of climate change.”

The statement was endorsed by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Calpine, HP Inc., Intel, LafargeHolcim, Microsoft, National Grid, PG&E, Rio Tinto, Schneider Electric, and Shell.

“As businesses concerned about the well-being of our investors, our customers, our communities and our planet, we are committed to working on our own and in partnership with governments to mobilize the technology, investment and innovation needed to transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy,” the statement says.

It says the Paris Agreement facilitates stronger private sector action by providing long-term direction, promoting transparency, addressing competitiveness, and facilitating carbon pricing.

“Many companies recognize the costly impacts of climate change, and see investment and growth opportunities in a clean-energy transition,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “These companies are taking action and are looking to governments to help lead the way.”

Read the full business statement:



Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. local time (11 a.m.-Noon EST)?U.S. Center, Blue Zone, Marrakech

Senior officials from major corporations discuss ways business leadership can help achieve climate goals in this live-streamed event co-sponsored with the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

•    Cathy Woollums, Senior Vice President, Environmental Services and Chief Environmental Counsel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy

•    Nanette Lockwood, Global Director, Policy and Advocacy, Ingersoll Rand

•    Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director, Mars Incorporated

•    Tamara “TJ” DiCaprio, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, Microsoft

•    Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President, C2ES

•    Eric Holdsworth, Senior Director, Climate Programs, EEI

For reporters in Marrakech, C2ES will also host a second side event:

Post-Election: The Outlook for U.S. Climate Policy

November 16, 2016

6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

IETA Pavilion, Blue Zone

•    Nathanial Keohane, Vice President, Global Climate, Environmental Defense Fund

•    Josh Klein, Senior Professional Staff, Senate Foreign Relations Committee 

•    Matt Rodriquez, Secretary for Environmental Protection, California

•    Cathy Woollums, Senior Vice President, Environmental Services and Chief Environmental Counsel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy

•    Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President, C2ES

C2ES Resources

•    UNFCCC Climate Transparency: Lessons Learned

•    Key Issues in Completing the Paris Climate Architecture

•    Linking Non-State Action with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

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

Bob Perciasepe on the results of the 2016 presidential election

Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

November 9, 2016

On the results of the 2016 U.S. election:

We urge President-elect Trump to take time to study the issue of climate change and hear a broad range of perspectives. He’ll find that a majority of Americans across the political spectrum support stronger climate action. Many cities, states and businesses are already acting. Business leaders recognize that extreme weather is driving up costs and that clean energy is creating economic opportunities essential to America’s future.

Smart investments and technological innovation have started America on a clean-energy transition. Building on that momentum will protect communities from rising climate damages and will contribute to strong and sustained economic growth.

The longer we wait to address climate change, the costlier it will be. The modern infrastructure and advanced technologies we need to cut emissions and strengthen climate resilience will create jobs at home and position U.S. firms to better compete in the emerging clean-energy economy.

Virtually every country in the world has committed to taking climate action and U.S. leadership is needed to hold them accountable for their promises.

As an independent, nonpartisan organization, C2ES will continue to provide evenhanded analysis and is committed to working with our newly elected leaders and with business and other stakeholders to build common ground toward common-sense climate solutions.


To talk to a C2ES expert, contact Laura Rehrmann at

About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to forge practical solutions to climate change. Our mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. Learn more at


UNFCCC Climate Transparency: Lessons Learned

UNFCCC Climate Transparency: Lessons Learned

November 2016

by Jennifer Huang

Download the fact sheet (PDF)

The Paris Agreement establishes an “enhanced transparency framework” to build mutual trust and confidence and to promote effective implementation. This framework combines common reporting and review requirements for all parties with “built-in flexibility” for developing countries. The agreement requires that parties, in elaborating the operational details of the transparency framework, build on experience with existing transparency arrangements under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Over the past year, developed and developing countries have shared their experiences with the existing transparency system in a variety of public forums. This brief highlights key lessons learned that can help inform the design of the Paris transparency framework.


Key Issues in Completing the Paris Climate Architecture

Key Issues in Completing
the Paris Climate Architecture

October 2016

By Jennifer Huang and Anthony Mansell

Download the fact sheet (PDF)


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.

Anthony Mansell
Jennifer Huang

Linking Non-State Action with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Linking Non-State Action with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

October 2016

By David Wei, Associate Director,
Business for Social Responsibility

Download the fact sheet (PDF)

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.

David Wei

Montreal Protocol

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.

C2ES Resources:

Nations agree on historic HFC phasedown

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.


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