Canada agrees to control hydrofluorocarbons under the Montreal Protocol

Official title:  Ratification of an Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

The Montreal Protocol is an international agreement signed in 1987. It is meant to protect the earth’s ozone layer by reducing the production and use of substances that cause ozone depletion.

Over the years, Canada played a key role in the development of the Montreal Protocol by:

  • contributing key scientific data
  • being among the first countries to  join
  • hosting the Secretariat of the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund in Montreal

Controls put in place under the Montreal Protocol helped the global community to avoid millions of cases of fatal skin cancer and tens of millions of cases of non-fatal skin cancer and eye cataracts.

The Protocol has also resulted in substantial climate benefits because most ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) are also powerful greenhouse gases (GHGs). By 2012, the Protocol had already averted GHG emissions equivalent to more than 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).

As ODSs are phased out under the Montreal Protocol, the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) has grown significantly. HFCs are powerful GHGs used as replacements for ODSs. Many HFCs have global warming potentials hundreds to thousands of times greater than CO2 making them a serious threat for the climate.

Recognizing this threat, Parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted an amendment in 2016 to phase down the use of HFCs. The Kigali Amendment sets out obligations and a timeline to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs. Parties are only bound by these obligations if they ratify the Kigali Amendment, and when the amendment enters into force.

To bring the Amendment into force on January 1, 2019, 20 ratifications by Parties to the Montreal Protocol were needed. This was achieved on November 17, 2017.

Canada ratified the Kigali Amendment on November 3, 2017. Once it enters into force on January 1, 2019 Canada will be required to:

  • phase down the consumption (imports and exports) of HFCs
  • establish a system for permiting the import and export of new, used, recycled and reclaimed HFCs
  • report on its HFC consumption
  • ban the trade of HFC with Parties that have not ratified the amendment by a certain date

Canada’s obligations under the Montreal Protocol are implemented through the Ozone-depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives Regulations (ODSHAR). The Regulations Amending the Ozone-depleting Substances and Halocarbon Alternatives Regulations (the Amendments) were published in Part II of the Canada Gazette on October 18, 2017 and enter into force on April 16, 2018. The Amendments will ensure Canada’s full compliance with obligations under the Kigali Amendment before it enters into force on January 1, 2019.

Canada’s ratification of the Kigali Amendment to phase down HFCs is expected to have important positive environmental impacts. It will contribute to global efforts to reduce the climate impacts from HFCs. This will contribute to reducing climate change effects such as:

  • amounts and distribution of rain, snow and ice
  • risk of extreme weather events such as:
    • heat waves
    • heavy rainfalls
    • flooding, dry spells and/or droughts and forest fires

This will serve to reduce health vulnerabilities to climate change.

In addition to the direct climate benefits described above, it is likely that a phase-down of HFCs will have indirect benefits, such as improvements in the energy efficiency and performance of refrigerators, air conditioners, and other products and equipment that use HFC refrigerants. Such improvements were achieved with the phase-out of ODSs under the Montreal Protocol. Energy efficiency gains will significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

Canada’s timely ratification of the Kigali Amendment will encourage ratification by other governments, thereby maximizing the potential environmental benefits of the Amendment.

Canada’s ratification of the Kigali Amendment will support the 2016 to 2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goal of “Effective action on climate change.”

Ratification will also contribute to the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.  Domestic implementation of the Kigali Amendment will contribute to the target of reducing Canada's total GHG emissions by 30% by 2030, relative to 2005 emission levels. Follow-up measures will be taken to monitor levels of HFCs and to ensure that domestic implementation of the Amendment supports the 2016 to 2019 FSDS goals.

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