Cooling Paradox Must Be Addressed: Montreal Protocol Task Force
To continue facilitating the repair of the ozone layer, the Open-ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol held the second part of its 43rd Meeting (OEWG 43). The first part of OEWG 43 had taken place in May, a two-day virtual meeting to discuss the funding of the Multilateral Fund.
The technical discussions at the second part of OEWG 43 aimed to establish a basis for the policy negotiations expected to take place at the combined meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Vienna Convention and Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Montreal Protocol, which will convene virtually in October 2021.
During OEWG 43, the Scientific Assessment Panel (SAP) and Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) presented updates on two issues. The first issue was the unexpected increase in emissions of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11), which was discovered in 2018. CFC-11 is an ozone-depleting substance that had been banned, but seemed to be coming from illegal production in northeast China. This was addressed by parties to the Montreal Protocol once discovered, and levels have since returned to pre-2012 concentrations. The Scientific Assessment Panel has concluded that these emissions are unlikely to have a statistically significant impact on the Antarctic ozone hole or global recovery of the ozone layer. However, in its presentation to OEWG43, the SAP noted that significant gaps exist in the global observations network, and need to be remedied to ensure successful monitoring and enforcement.
Several participants highlighted the need to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of parties’ obligations under the Montreal Protocol, with the aim of detecting unexpected emissions and preventing illegal production of other ozone-depleting substances. The Ozone Secretariat and the EU highlighted a pilot project to identify gaps in monitoring and potential locations for new atmospheric monitoring stations, which could be established in partnership with countries around the world. This is expected to be negotiated in greater detail at the MOP in October.
On the second topic, energy-efficient and low-global-warming-potential (GWP) technologies, the Energy Efficiency Task Force of the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel provided updates to its 2020 report. The Task Force highlighted the growing accessibility of energy-efficient technologies with low GWP in the refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump sectors.
The Task Force said transitioning to energy-efficient technologies is not only essential for ozone recovery, but also creates critical co-benefits for the climate. The EETF emphasized the “vicious circle,” also referred to as “the cooling paradox,” created by the growing need for cooling in a warming world, and the role that cooling plays in exacerbating climate change.
Relatedly, the EETF emphasized the importance of cooling for achieving the SDGs. For example, cooling technologies are needed to minimize post-harvest losses in the cold food chain and for storing medicines and vaccines. Speakers also stressed the need to shift to low-GWP refrigerants and use equipment with greater energy efficiency; in addition to the emissions decrease, the energy required would drop by 20%.
The Task Force’s report indicates that it is possible to leapfrog from technologies using hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)—substances being phased out of production and use under the Montreal Protocol, as they are both ODS and greenhouse gases (GHGs) —to more energy-efficient equipment using lower-GWP refrigerants. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin meeting coverage]