As the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol entered into force on 1 January, the EU was already ahead of its agreed target.
The Kigali Amendment, first signed at a United Nations Environment Programme in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2016, commits signatories to reduce their production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Developed countries agreed to reduce their HFC consumption by 10 per cent by 2019, with further reductions leading into 2036, by which time HFC consumption should be at 15 per cent of the baseline established in 2016. Developing countries committed to a deferred implementation schedule for the Kigali Amendment, beginning the “phase down” in 2024.
Hydrofluorocarbons are organic compounds containing hydrogen and fluorine atoms, most commonly used as refrigerants in air conditioning units and refrigerators. They act as a replacement for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which had already been phased out under the Montreal Protocol due to the damage they caused to the ozone layer; but while HFCs are not as immediately and urgently harmful as CFCs, they have been shown to contribute significantly to global warming. The phasing down of HFC usage under the Kigali Amendment is expected to reduce global warming by up to 0.4°C by 2100, representing a substantial contribution to the objective of the Paris Agreement of keeping the Earth’s temperature rise below 2°C.
The EU, which ratified the Kigali Amendment in September 2018, has established itself as a world leader in phasing down its use of fluorinated gases (F-gases), of which HFCs represent the majority. By 2017, the EU’s HFC use had already dropped by 12 per cent more than the 2019 target; and the F-Gas Regulation, brought in by the European Parliament in 2014, aims to cut the EU’s emissions of F-gases by two thirds by 2030. The regulation and the Kigali Amendment form part of a wider global drive to reduce harmful emissions and prevent the exponential rise in global temperature.