Protecting climate: EU gives green light to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol

20 July 2017 | Mitigation

On 17 July, the Council adopted a decision to conclude, on behalf of the EU, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will ensure the protection of the climate from the powerful greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). With this decision, the EU is ready for formal ratification, and has signalled its continued determination to lead global efforts to tackle climate change.

The purpose of the Kigali Amendment, agreed on 15 October 2016,  is to achieve a global reduction in the consumption and production of HFCs. Although greenhouse gases do not damage the ozone layer, their release into the atmosphere contributes to climate change and they have a significant impact on global warming.

Taking swift action to cut HFC emissions is essential. The implementation of this Amendment is expected to prevent warming of up to 0.5° Celsius by the end of the century, thus making a positive contribution to reaching the targets of the Paris agreement.

"HFCs are thousands of times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide. I very much welcome today's decision to be among the first to ratify the Kigali amendment to cut these greenhouse gases and continue our unwavering commitment to tackling climate change. This is an issue where international cooperation is crucial. Taking the Montreal Protocol as a model, the EU is ready to make sure this amendment is also a success."

Siim Kiisler, Minister of the Environment of the Republic of Estonia

HFCs can be found in equipment and products used in our daily lives such as fridges, air conditioners, foams and aerosol sprays. They were introduced as an alternative to ozone depleting substances, mainly hydrochlorofluorocarbons. 

Implementation at EU level 

The Kigali Amendment sets out a number of steps to be taken by the parties to the Montreal Protocol, in accordance with their economic and social development, to gradually reduce the use of HFCs. The EU member states, like other developed countries, are required to start the first reductions in 2019.  

However, the EU has taken early action and is at the forefront of compliance. The regulation adopted in 2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases enabled the EU to already begin phasing down HFCs in 2015. This regulation will have to be reviewed to comply with the Kigali Amendment beyond 2030. 

Until then, the current EU legislation can still apply. In fact, it not only fulfils the Montreal Protocol obligations, but also provides for a stricter phase-down schedule compared with the measures to be in place under the new amendment. 

Timeline & next steps

On 2 February 2017, the Commission submitted a proposal for a Council decision to authorise the conclusion of the Kigali Amendment. The Council agreed to conclude the Amendment and start the ratification process on 11 May 2017. Subsequently, the European Parliament gave its formal consent during its plenary on 5 July. 

Today's Council decision enters into force immediately after its adoption. The EU has now to formally deposit the declaration of competence together with the instrument of ratification of the Kigali amendment at the United Nations. 

Member states are currently following their respective ratification processes considering that they also need to obtain approval from their national parliaments. 

The Amendment will enter into force on 1 January 2019 upon ratification by at least 20 states or regional economic integration organisations that are parties to the Montreal Protocol. If this threshold is not reached by then, the Amendment will enter into force on the 90th day following the date on which this condition has been finally fulfilled. 

Background - Kigali Amendment & Montreal Protocol 

The EU and its member states are long-standing advocates of climate protection. They are parties to the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol to phase out the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances and they had approved its four previous amendments to include in its regulatory scope other non-ozone depleting chemicals which cause climate change.

All 197 parties, including the EU and its member states, have been remarkably committed to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol since its agreement in 1987 and as a result, the recovery of the ozone layer is underway and is forecast to have been completed by the middle of this century. 

In light of this success, the Protocol has been amended a fifth time to reduce HFCs. This Amendment was adopted at the 28th Meeting of the Parties from 10 to 15 October 2016 held in Kigali (Rwanda).

Under its provisions, developed countries will be the first to start the phase-down process in 2019. Measures are more flexible for others. For most developing countries, the first step to reduce the production and consumption of these greenhouse gases begins in 2029 while for the remaining developing parties the first step is only set for 2032.



Source: European Council