This article is brought to you by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.

The 24th meeting of the parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP-24), which deals with ozone-depleting substances (ODS), closed in Geneva, Switzerland on 16 November. One of the most controversial issues that the delegates had before them was to decide whether or not to amend the Protocol to cover hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

During the past 25 years, as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – the main ODS – were being phased out, HFCs were largely used as a suitable alternative. Although HFCs do not damage the ozone layer, they are considered a super greenhouse gas (GHG), with a global warming potential hundreds or even thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide. Recognising the threat that HFCs pose, several delegates have been proposing to amend the Protocol to include HFCs over the past several MOPs. The proposals have always been considered, but never agreed to. Objections to any amendment regarding HFCs have originated from the BRICS countries. At the most recent meeting, the objectors included India, China, Bahrain and Kuwait, while the US, Canada, Mexico and Micronesia acted as proponents.

The opponents to the proposed amendment mainly argued that HFCs are not ODS. Therefore, discussions of this issue should not fall under the Montreal Protocol, but rather at other for a, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.

The proponents, on the other hand, claimed that the Montreal Protocol would be the right vehicle for addressing HFCs, as these chemical substances originated from its very own agenda.

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