Is quibbling over the 2020-22/ 2024-26 baseline for A5 parties worthwhile to achieve an ambitious HFC amendment?
An analysis and appeal by Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi
As we enter the last three days of negotiations in Kigali, we see a sense of accommodation and flexibility within parties. However, this positive environment is being sullied due to quibbling by the A2 parties about the proposed baseline years of the A5 parties.
A general consensus seems to be emerging within the A5 parties to have a dual baseline. One group of countries, that includes China, seems to favor average HFC consumption during 2020-22 as the baseline (the 2020-22 baseline). Another group, that includes India, seems to opt for average HFC consumption during 2024-26 as the baseline (the 2024-26 baseline). Over the past few days, we have witnessed pressure being put by the A2 parties on the A5 parties to accept the 2020-22 baseline. Lure of early finance, HAT exemption etc are being used to isolate those countries that favor the 2024-26 baseline. This sparring threatens to unravel the progress made so far on the HFC amendment.
To understand the implications of the 2020-22 and 2024-26 baselines, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) decided to do an analysis of the climate benefits of both these baselines. This analysis has been done using the recently released TEAP data (Decision Ex.III/1 Working Group Report: On the climate benefits and costs of reducing hydrofluorocarbons under the Dubai pathway).
We have used three hypothetical scenarios:
Scenario 1: All A5 parties have Average HFC consumption in 2020–2022 plus 65% of HCFC baseline consumption, as their baseline. They Freeze their consumption in 2025. They achieve 10% reduction in 2028, 35% reduction in 2032, 70% in 2037 and 85% by 2041. 15% of the baseline consumption is allowed thereafter.
Scenario 2: All A5 parties have Average HFC consumption in 2024–2026 plus 65% of HCFC baseline consumption, as their baseline. They Freeze their consumption in 2029. They achieve 10% reduction in 2032, 35% reduction in 2036, 70% in 2041 and 85% by 2045. 15% of the baseline consumption is allowed thereafter.
Scenario 3: Only China (accounting for 60% of total A5 consumption) follows Scenario 1 and the rest of the developing countries (accounting for 40% of the consumption) follows Scenario 2.
The results are startling:
Under Scenario 1, when all developing countries have 2020-22 as baseline, the climate benefit is about 64 billion tonne CO2e. This scenario has 17 per cent more climate benefit than the EU amendment proposal.
Under Scenario 2, when all developing countries have 2024-26 as baseline, the climate benefit is about 51 billion tonne CO2e – which is about 20 per cent less climate benefit compared to Scenario 1. The climate benefit under Scenario 2 is almost two times the climate benefit under the Indian amendment proposal or similar to the EU proposal.
Under Scenario 3, when only China decides to take 2020-22 as baseline and all other developing countries have 2024-26 as the baseline, the climate benefit is about 59 billion tonne CO2e – a mere 8 per cent less climate benefit from Scenario 1. The climate benefit of Scenario 1 over Scenario 3 is about 5 billion tonne CO2e over a period of 35 years or about 140 million tonne CO2e per year. In comparison, the current annual CO2 emissions in the United States alone is about 5 billion tonne.
In conclusion, the difference in the climate benefit between Scenario 1 and Scenario 3 is insignificant. This difference between scenario 1 and Scenario 3 will remain broadly the same even if we change the phase-down schedule.
China is the single most important factor in determining the climate benefit. China has already shown leadership and has favored 2020-22 as its baseline. Many other countries have preferred 2020-22 as baseline. In such a scenario, if another group of A5 countries decides to have 2024-26 as the baseline, the shift will have insignificant impact on the climate benefit. This is not an issue which is important enough to create discord within parties.
If the A2 parties feel very strongly about this issue, then there are different ways to deal with it. One of the best ways would be to put a clause in the amendments that allows countries with 2024-26 baseline to move to 2020-22 baseline at a later date, if they so wish. This could be incentivized with better access to finance and technology.
But at this juncture, when a consensus is emerging, let us not blow it up on a non-issue.