US$80 million climate fund launched in support of amended Montreal Protocol

30th September 2016 Mythili Sampathkumar

A fund set up by the United Nations (UN) aims to progress talks that could end the use of carbon intensive hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) found in refrigeration and air conditioning.

The US$80 million Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund was announced during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on 13 September 2016 ahead of negotiations to amend the Montreal Protocol on HFC emissions.

Changes to the treaty, which was first signed in 1987 to cement global efforts to protect Earth’s ozone layer, will take immediate effect if agreed in Kigali, Rwanda from 10 to 14 October 2016. 

HFCs emitted in developing countries have risen with incomes across emerging markets, along with the use of air conditioning units in people’s homes and places of work. HFC emissions could increase to form up to 19 percent of global carbon emissions by 2050 if left unabated, a statement released by the White House said.

At the New York Declaration of the Coalition to Secure an Ambitious HFC Amendment event, more than 100 countries voiced support to amend the document. Many, including the US, Japan, the EU, Canada, Norway, and Australia, called for an “early freeze date” for developing nations, marking the year a country stops increasing production and use of HFCs and begins phasing them out.

The amendment would add strength to efforts already agreed to by more than 190 nations at the COP21 Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015. Hakima El Haite, Morocco’s delegate minister in Charge of Environment and host of the next round of climate change talks in November, said that if done properly, the Amendment has the potential to decrease global warming by up to 0.5 degree Celsius.

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s minister of environment, stressed the importance of the amendment endorsement and told Development Finance the Montreal Protocol is “the best, most successful environmental treaty…[because] it set the ozone layer on a path of healing”.

The bulk of the US$80 million–around US$53 million–is expected to come from high-profile philanthropic donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the Godrej, Hewlett, MacArthur and Packard Foundations, among others.

Minister El Haite told Development Finance the key to using the fund to full effect is to transfer technology and knowledge to develop projects that combat the effects of HFCs under a newly drafted Montreal Protocol.

In a press conference at the UN’s New York headquarters, Kate Hampton, the executive director of Climate Change for Children’s Investment Fund Foundation–a donor–said the impact of the amendment could be “both quick and big”, for which the fund acts as a ‘fast-start.’

Mindy Lubber, president of Boston-based coalition of investors and public interest groups working on sustainability, Ceres, cited nearly 500 private sector companies and umbrella organisations calling for the amendment. Among those mentioned were 3M, the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), Dell, and Dow Chemical.

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