February 8, 2013
HALON ALTERNATIVES RESEARCH CORPORATION
FROM: TOM CORTINA
SUBJECT: MONTREAL PROTOCOL STAKEHOLDERS MEETING
On Tuesday, February 5, the State Department and EPA hosted a stakeholder meeting to begin discussions for 2013 on the issue of HFCs in the Montreal Protocol. Participants included Gina McCarthy, Drusilla Hufford, and Cindy Newberg of EPA, along with Dan Reifsynder and John Thompson of State. There were about 75 attendees representing industry and environmental NGOs.
It appears that the United States, Canada and Mexico will again propose an amendment by the April deadline to add HFCs to the Montreal Protocol and slowly phase down their production. Although the amendment is likely to be similar to the 2012 proposed amendment, changes are being considered to the schedule, baseline, and list of controlled substances. Two alternative developing country phase down schedules were presented. One began with a long freeze and contained only two reduction steps, and the other had an initial 20% reduction but no further reduction for many years. It was suggested that these schedules might be viewed more favorably by developing countries. Another potential change being considered to gain developing country support is removing controls on HFC-23 byproduct emissions from the amendment. The issue of whether or not to include HFOs in the list of controlled HFCs was also raised. Any proposed amendments would be discussed at the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) meeting in June and at the Meeting of Parties (MOP) in October.
At the 2012 MOP the formation of a formal contact group to begin negotiating of the HFC amendments was again blocked by a small group of countries including India, China, and Brazil. The formation of a discussion group that addressed the HFC issue during the MOP plenary was seen as “modest progress,” as was the decision for another TEAP study on low-GWP alternatives to ODS and increased support from South Africa.
Other highlights from the meeting are presented below. We have invited EPA staff to the March 7 HARC meeting to discuss these issue in more detail.
- In her opening remarks, Gina McCarthy (Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation) stated that EPA “can do more” to address HFCs under existing programs such as SNAP, although she provided no specifics. Support for doing more under SNAP was expressed by NRDC, EIA, and a few other participants.
- HTOC co-chair Dan Verdonik noted that for certain fire protection applications such as explosion suppression or aircraft engines, the only options may be to switch to high-GWP HFCs or continue to use halons.
- Plans are being developed to hold another technology conference prior to the OEWG in Bangkok in June.
- The Alliance expressed support for an international HFC phase down under the Montreal Protocol and noted that separate country laws cause problems.
- There were references by two environmental NGOs to strong lobbying by the fluorocarbon industry against the new EU F-gas proposed regulation.
- NRDC expressed concern that the proposed alternative developing country phase down schedules amounted to the US negotiating with itself. They also urged that all HFCs continue to be included in the phase down.
- DuPont stated that the inclusion of HFOs in the proposed amendments is already causing problems in the market and urged that they be removed from the list of controlled HFCs.