EU may tighten methyl bromide policy

Commission submits initial EU position for next Montreal Protocol meeting

The EU is likely to argue for a new earlier deadline for phasing out methyl bromide in developed countries at the next meeting of parties to the international Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer.

This week, the European Commission has written to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) outlining an initial EU position for the meeting of parties, to be held in September in Montreal. According to a Commission official, there is "a strong lobby in the EU to see the 2010 date [the current deadline for methyl bromide in developed countries] tightened." The EU is also likely to push for tighter deadlines for developing countries.

Since its signature in 1987, the Montreal Protocol has led to an almost complete phase out of CFCs and halons by developed countries. Attention is now focusing on phasing out the remaining known depleters and ending developing countries' dependence on all of them.

The Commission has sent a letter to UNEP stating the EU's initial position. The letter has not been released publicly, but an official told ENDS Daily that he expects the EU to put strong emphasis on setting a tighter phase out deadline for methyl bromide consumption in developing countries. He said the Commission will propose a specific date after a UNEP expert committee has published a report in March on the technical and economic feasibility of various phase-out scenarios.

He added that "there is a strong lobby within the EU" to bring forward the 2010 phase out deadline for methyl bromide in developed countries. The Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands have called in the past for a ban by 2001. The EU is also set to push for bans on trade in methyl bromide with countries that have not joined the Montreal Protocol.

The official said that the EU will probably push for all developed countries to cut HCFC consumption by 99.5% by 2015, as it has in the last two meetings of parties. The current deadline under the Montreal Protocol is 2020, though the EU has unilaterally adopted 2015 for itself.

Simultaneously, the Commission is drafting a new regulation on ozone-depleting substances that is likely to bring in tighter EU restrictions than exist under the Montreal Protocol. Environment ministers are likely to discuss the draft in June.

Follow Up:
European Commission, DGXI, tel: +32 2 2951111.

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