Costa Rican congress approves the sixth amendment to the Montreal Protocol

On February 6th, 2018, the Legislative Assembly adopted the last amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

This is the sixth amendment that has been made to the Montreal Protocol, an agreement designed to phase-down the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, thereby reducing their potential release into the atmosphere. Each of these amendments includes a list of substances that could potentially deplete the ozone layer, the use of which should be subject to regulatory measures in furtherance of gradually reducing emissions. The effectiveness of the approach described in the Montreal Protocol is noteworthy, not only because it is an exception in terms of international cooperation, but also because the ozone layer has seen early signs of recovery.

This amendment is the result of the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, held in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2016. The specific objective of the amendment was to phase down the production and limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which, despite posing no harm to the ozone layer, have a high global warming potential due to being greenhouse gases.

The regulation of HFCs is of particular importance because the use of hydrofluorocarbons has grown in relation to other greenhouse gases, given that they are used as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

Specifically, the amendment establishes that developed countries will start to phase-down HFC consumption gradually from 2019 onwards, until the reduction target of 97.8% is reached in 2035. Developing countries, on the other hand, will delay their efforts and freeze their consumption levels between 2024 and 2028.  Moreover, the amendment provides exceptions for countries with high ambient temperatures, granting them an extended and more lenient phase-out schedule to reach their targets. Likewise, it establishes that developing countries may opt for financial and technical assistance from the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund to help them adopt alternatives and facilitate the upgrade to more advanced technologies. This mechanism, which had already been used to implement prior amendments with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has proven successful in our country.

Although this amendment recently came into force, Costa Rican authorities have been making progress in phasing out HFCs since 2010, when the importation of these substances started being controlled.

By: Luis Palacios, Environmental Consultant