On 17 July 2017, the European Council has adopted a decision to, on behalf of the European Union, conclude the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol – ensuring the protection of climate from powerful greenhouse gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). With this decision, the European Union is ready for formal ratification, and has signalled its continued determination to lead global efforts to tackle climate change. What is the implementation timeline and what do future steps look like?
The purpose of the Kigali Amendment, agreed on 15 October 2016, is to achieve a global reduction in the consumption and production of HFCs. Although greenhouse gases do not damage the ozone layer, their release into the atmosphere contributes to climate change, therefore they have a significant impact on global warming.
Taking swift action to cut HFC emissions is essential. The implementation of this Amendment is expected to prevent warming of up to 0.5° Celsius by the end of the century, thus making a positive contribution to reaching the targets of the Paris agreement.
Implementation on the EU level
The Kigali Amendment sets out a number of steps to be taken by the parties to the Montreal Protocol, in accordance with their economic and social development, to gradually reduce the use of HFCs. The EU member states, like other developed countries, are required to start the first reductions in 2019.
However, the EU has taken early action and is at the forefront of compliance. The regulation adopted in 2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases enabled the EU to already begin phasing down HFCs in 2015. This regulation will have to be reviewed to comply with the Kigali Amendment beyond 2030.
Until then, the current EU legislation can still apply. In fact, it not only fulfils the Montreal Protocol obligations, but also provides for a stricter phase-down schedule compared with the measures to be in place under the new amendment.
Timeline and next steps
On 2 February 2017, the European Commission submitted a proposal for a Council decision to authorise the conclusion of the Kigali Amendment. The European Council agreed to conclude the Amendment and start the ratification process on 11 May 2017. Subsequently, the European Parliament gave its formal consent during its plenary on 5 July.
This Council’s decision enters into force immediately after its adoption. The EU now has to formally deposit the declaration of competence together with the instrument of ratification of the Kigali amendment in the United Nations.
Member states are currently following their respective ratification processes considering that they also need to obtain approval from their national parliaments.
The Amendment will enter into force on 1 January 2019 upon ratification by at least 20 states or regional economic integration organisations that are parties to the Montreal Protocol. If this threshold is not reached by then, the Amendment will enter into force on the 90th day following the date on which this condition has been finally fulfilled.
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