Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Strengthened Ozone Treaty Provides Five Times Kyoto Treaty in Climate Mitigation
Montreal, 23 September 2007. The 191 Parties to the Montreal Protocol reached a historic agreement late Friday night to strengthen the ozone treaty to address reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 billion tons of CO2 equivalent—five times more than the Kyoto Protocol will do during its initial reduction period from 2008 to 2012.
"Five times Kyoto's initial climate reductions is an extraordinary accomplishment," said Durwood Zaelke, the President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, which coordinated a year-long effort to educate the Parties about the climate potential of the Montreal Protocol. He added that "This historic decision marks the first time both developed and developing countries have agreed to mandatory climate reductions. This is a big boost for the post-2012 climate negotiations." Friday night's decision, reached after seven days of negotiations, also will advance the recovery of the ozone layer by several years.
The decision speeds up by ten years the phase-out of HCFCs, chemicals that destroy the ozone layer and contribute to climate change. As part of the agreement, developed country Parties promised to continue paying into a technology fund to help developing country Parties meet their new phase-out obligations. [See summary of decision, below, and link to official version.]
Success was achieved by an unusual coalition of both developing and developed country Parties working together to strengthen the treaty to realize its full potential to reduce climate emissions. Argentina and Brazil led the developing country Parties, and were strongly supported by low-lying island and coastal countries, including Micronesia, Mauritius, and Mauritania, who were concerned by the threat of rising sea-levels that threaten their very existence.
The United States proposed the most aggressive phase-out schedule, supported by the Group of 8 strongest economies in the world, along with Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland. Argentina and Brazil also proposed an aggressive phase-out of HCFCs, and worked effectively to build support from other developed country Parties. India and Mexico also were supporters.
China, which has the largest production and consumption of HCFCs in its air conditioning and refrigeration industry, continued its long history of faithful participation in the Montreal Protocol by joining the consensus, after long and difficult negotiations. "Their gracious statement of support in the final high-level meeting Friday night was the highlight of the meeting," said Zaelke, "demonstrating true leadership and commitment to the spirit of cooperation that is the heart of the Montreal Protocol."
"The decision is an enormous achievement for the environment," said Dan Reifsnyder, lead U.S. negotiator. "When we first proposed an accelerated phase-out for HCFCs, we knew it would be a difficult undertaking but we are thrilled with the momentum it generated so quickly and now with the momentous result—not only for the ozone layer but also for the climate system."
The United States is hosting a meeting of the world's largest climate emitters September 27-28 in Washington, DC. US leadership in Montreal to accelerate the phase-out of HCFCs in a way that supports energy efficiency and climate change objectives should give a boost to these talks.
Argentina's Environmental Minister Romina Picolotti was an early and outspoken champion for strengthening the ozone treaty to do more for climate mitigation. Argentina suffers from environmental and health impacts due to its close proximity to the Antarctic. "Our success is important for the ozone layer, and even more important for the climate, as it shows us what we can do when we have the spirit to cooperate," said Ms. Picolotti. She also praised the efforts of Maas Goote from The Netherlands, who chaired the small HCFC negotiating group, noting that “Maas’s tough professionalism and his good humor played a key role in securing agreement.” Zaelke agreed, stating that “Chairing this negotiation took a tremendous amount of skill and persistence, and Maas had it all.”
"This was the right idea at the right time with the right team," said Dr. Husamuddin Ahmadzai, Senior Advisor for Enforcement and Implementation, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. "The Montreal Protocol's role in reducing climate emissions should be heralded throughout the world," he added.
Without the Montreal Protocol, and earlier efforts to reduce CFCs starting in 1974 when Drs. Rowland & Molina first warned of their danger, radiative forcing from ozone depleting substances would almost have matched emissions from CO2 by 2010. "This early action on ozone has delayed climate change up to a Planet-saving 35-41 years," said Scott Stone, Research Fellow at the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. He referred to the seminal science paper calculating the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol by Guus Velders of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and colleagues at NASA, DuPont, and the US EPA. Stone also complimented Maas Goote as chair, stating that “Maas reminded the Parties of the spirit of Montreal, and like a great coach, got everyone to play their ‘A’ game for the Planet.”
Micronesia, Mauritius, and Mauritania, who all made proposals to speed the HCFC phase-out, reminded the Parties throughout the negotiations that the 25 billion tons of CO2 equivalent on the negotiating table would help keep the Planet from reaching the "tipping point" for abrupt and irreversible climate change, including catastrophic sea-level rise.
"For small-island states, reaching consensus on this decision was a matter of survival," said Kandhi Elieisar, Assistant Secretary for Asia-Pacific Multilateral Affairs of Micronesia.
Mr. Sateeaved Seebaluck, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment for Mauritius stated that "We proved to the world that multilateralism can produce good results when the spirit of trust and cooperation prevails. The success of these negotiations will remain a landmark in the history of mankind and it is the best gift we could give ourselves on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Protocol."
Seebaluck added, "It is yet another long stride in protection of life. My only hope is that other multilateral environmental agreements take this example and emulate the Montreal Protocol. And when we look forward that we can carry the same spirit to the negotiations for the new climate treaty that will follow the Kyoto Protocol."
Zaelke said, "Our success this week should give us the courage we need to move forward with a strong post-Kyoto climate agreement, starting in December in Bali," when negotiators meet to discuss the climate treaty that will succeed the Kyoto agreement. He continued, "It also gives us some key lessons to consider as we design the post-Kyoto climate regime, including that a Montreal-type regulatory approach can work effectively and efficiently to deliver real climate reductions."
Summary of Decision to Accelerate the Phase-out of HCFCs
Developing Country Parties:
Base level 2009-2010 average
Freeze on 1 Jan 2013
10% reduction on 1 Jan 2015
35% on 1 Jan 2020
67,5% on 1 Jan 2025
Continuing use of 2.5% from 2030 to 2040
Developed Country Parties:
75% reduction on 1 Jan 2010
90% on 1 Jan 2015
Continuing use of 0.5% from 2020 to 2030
Full decision at http://ozone.unep.org/Meeting_Documents/mop/19mop/MOP_19_ReportE.pdf
(page 3, para F).
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