Montreal Protocol on greenhouse gases amended in Kigali

History has been made in the Rwandan capital Kigali as the world witnessed the amendment of Montreal Protocol to curb global warming hydro fluorocarbon (HFCs) gases in largest climate breakthrough since Paris.

HFCs substances, which are used mainly in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, have a global warming effect up to 15,000 times greater than carbon dioxide and are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emission, according to climate change experts.

A successful amendment to the protocol signifies the international community’s commitment to practical action to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 2°C, and the more ambitious target of 1.5°C.

After week-long intense negotiations, international leaders and ozone preservation and low carbon development experts from nearly 200 countries struck a landmark deal on Saturday.

Rwanda hosted the high-level meeting of the 28th Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP28) from October 8 to 14 at the Kigali Convention Center with an aim of reaching a global agreement on an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs.

The agreement represents a significant step forward in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, which will legally enter into force next month.

Speaking to reporters shortly after passing the Montreal protocol deal, Erik Solheim, said the success in Kigali on HFCs is enormously important move in fight against climate change.

“Last year in Paris, we promised to keep the world safe from the worst effects of climate change. Today, we are following through on that promise,” said UN Environment chief Erik Solheim.

“This is about much more than the ozone layer and HFCs. It is a clear statement by all world leaders that the green transformation started in Paris is irreversible and unstoppable. It shows the best investments are those in clean, efficient technologies,” he said.

Under the agreement, reached after the five-day long grueling negotiation, the developed countries, including the U.S., Japan, Canada and west European nations, will reduce HFC use first, followed by China along with a large number of other developing countries.

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda minister of natural resources who was also the president of the meeting, said that the Kigali amendment is no longer a dream but a reality and it go down in history that a major climate deal was sealed in Rwanda.

“Passing the Kigali Amendment is truly a success. It shows the world that meaningful action on climate change is possible and that we stand a real chance of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We have made history today and we should all be very proud,” he noted. “Your commitment to a prosperous future and your willingness to come to the table in the spirit of collaboration is not only the hallmark of the Montreal Protocol, but also the best of humanity.”

The Kigali Amendment is the result of seven years of negotiation. Under the amendment, developed countries will start to phase down HFCs by 2019 while developing countries will freeze their levels of consumption in 2024, with some starting the freeze in 2028.

The amendment comes just weeks before the 22nd Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 22) in Marrakesh. The adoption of the Kigali Amendment builds momentum for even greater success in Morocco.

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), HFC emissions are growing at a rate of about 7 percent annually. If the current mix of HFCs is unchanged, increasing demand could result in HFC emissions of up to 8.8 gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year by 2050.

Montreal Protocol is regarded as the world’s most effective environmental treaty.

It was first signed on September 16, 1987, and is widely considered to be one of the most-effective multilateral environment treaties ever negotiated. It’s the only treaty in the United Nations system to which every country is a signatory.


Xinhua/Zainab Sa’id