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Accelerating the Phase-Out of HCFCs

Daniel A. Reifsnyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment
Remarks at the 19th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
Montreal, Quebec
September 18, 2007

Thank you, Madame Co-Chair.

We appreciate the opportunity at this meeting to consider options to accelerate the HCFC phase-out and thus to seek ways to speed the recovery of the ozone layer. To this end, the United States submitted the most aggressive package of proposed adjustments to the Montreal Protocol for consideration by the Parties at this meeting. Our package calls on the global community to act more quickly in completing the HCFC phase-out. In doing so, we are fulfilling our commitment from last June's G-8 Summit Declaration to accelerate the phase-out of HCFCs in a way that supports energy efficiency and climate change objectives. The United States believes that the Parties have an important opportunity this week to agree on adjustments that will advance recovery of the ozone layer by several years and produce climate change benefits.

The United States encourages all delegates to strive to reach an agreement at this meeting on accelerating HCFC control measures, which will demonstrate our continued commitment to finding cost-effective ways to promote a more rapid recovery of the ozone layer.

We thank other Parties that have made proposals along these lines and appreciate the need to consider a range of options. All six proposals demonstrate the thoughtfulness of the Parties. Most importantly, we appreciate the willingness of many Parties at this meeting to work through difficult issues in seeking an agreement during this historic 20th anniversary year.

We note the agreed importance of step-wise reductions, moving forward the baseline and freeze, and the terminal end date for all HCFCs. These aspects of the proposals will also result in moving forward eligible funding of HCFC projects for consideration by the Multilateral Fund's Executive Committee.

The HCFC phase-out differs from the CFC phase-out in significant ways. Perhaps, most importantly from an implementation prospective, the availability of a suite of non-ozone depleting alternatives, some of which are already manufactured in facilities located in Article 5 Parties, should smooth the transition. We are grateful for past work by the Technical and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) and the Technical Options Committees (TOCs) that have already provided useful information concerning alternatives for HCFCs, many of which could be deployed more widely and expeditiously.

We believe that accelerating the HCFC phase-out is good for ozone layer protection -- and on that basis we believe that the Parties should seize the opportunity to move forward. However, we recognize that the HCFC phase-out is also being discussed in the context of benefits to the climate system. On that basis, we believe there will be positive climate benefits based on the suite of substitutes available today. However, we note that if new refrigerants are developed, particularly to replace HCFC-22, which has the overwhelming percentage of the HCFC market, and if these refrigerants have low or zero global warming potentials (GWPs) - the climate benefits will be even greater.

In addressing an accelerated phase-out of HCFCs, particularly HCFC-22, it is important to consider actions now taking place in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol. The TEAP Task Force Report clearly highlights these concerns. The continued or increased production of HCFC-22 as a means for creating HFC-23 to be destroyed for Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) is a perverse incentive for the continued and perhaps increased production of an ozone-depleting substance. Any increase in HCFC-22 production increases the overall HCFC baseline from Article 5 countries where HCFC-22 production occurs, which we also find to be a troubling implication of these activities under the CDM. We encourage Parties individually to consider actions that would support a better overall environmental outcome, including through refraining from purchasing CERs associated with HFC-23 destruction and refraining from generating these CERs. This yet another reason why it will be important to set an earlier baseline and freeze, perhaps considering a past year or an average that includes a past year, to prevent any avoidable increases in the baseline.

I have already seen the willingness of Parties to pursue an accelerated phase-out and I am greatly encouraged. I look forward to working this week to seek a solution that meets the needs of both Article 5 and non-Article 5 Parties.

Thank you, Madame Co-Chair.



Released on September 25, 2007

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