Montreal Protocol – Kigali Amendment (International Law)

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is a Protocol to the UNEP Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. The Montreal Protocol is in force, sufficient states have ratified. In the EU bloc, the Montreal Protocol is given effect by an existing EU Regulation on Ozone Depleting Substances. In addition, a separate EU Regulation regulates Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (F-gases).

The Kigali Amendment is specifically focussed on the global phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – powerful greenhouse gases. HFCs account for 85% of present F-gas supply. UNEP has a FAQ here.

HFCs, used mainly in refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment, are thousands of times more harmful to the climate than CO2. In response to the rapid growth of HFC emissions, the 197 parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted the Kigali Amendment in 2016 to reduce gradually their global production and consumption.

The EU has been phasing down HFCs since 2015 (and has a separate EU Regulation on the matter). EU Member States are in the process of ratifying the Kigali Amendment individually.

All 197 Montreal Protocol parties agreed to take steps to gradually reduce the production and use of HFCs. The first reduction step to be taken by the EU and other developed countries is required in 2019, while most developing countries will start their phasedown in 2024.

The Kigali Amendment will enter into force on 1 January 2019.

Montreal Protocol parties continue to ratify the Amendment, which has so far been ratified by 60 parties. The parties, listed alphabetically, are: Austria, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guinea Bissau, Hungary, Ireland, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Netherlands, Niger, Niue, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Vanuatu.

A useful assessment of the EU F-gas regulation dating March 2018 is here.

This highlights the further changes mandated by the Kigali Amendment to implement a HFC licensing system.

BREXIT : the UK has ratified the Kigali Amendment

US : the US has not yet ratified the Kigali Amendment

China : China has not yet ratified the Kigali Amendment

A useful assessment of the US and China current state is here. (Source – here)

22 Nov 2018 Political Declaration (EU-UK Brexit/FTA)

Today (22nd Nov 2018) is published the text agreed by negotiators for the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the Future Relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. This document is here, and here.

(the Declaration is in the Annex starting on the second page)

The Declaration is agreed in principle at the Political level, subject to the endorsement of Leaders. It will remain a political document, and is not a legal document per se.

The text of the Declaration states that it is made under the Art 50 process set out in the EU Treaties for a member state to exit the Union, and it accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement text I posted about recently (dated 14 Nov) that has been endorsed by the EU and the UK, subject to ratification.

Clause 1 of the Declaration states :

1. The European Union, hereafter referred to as “the Union”, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, hereafter referred to as “the United Kingdom”, (“the Parties”) have agreed this political declaration on their future relationship, on the basis that Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) provides for the negotiation of an agreement setting out the arrangements for the withdrawal of a departing Member State, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. In that context, this declaration accompanies the Withdrawal Agreement that has been endorsed by the Parties, subject to ratification.

Further steps for the Withdrawal Agreement (and its accompanying Political Declaration) are :

(1) vote in the UK and EU Parliaments

(2) ratification by Leaders individually

The Withdrawal Agreement text is not reopen for change, save as respects the Transition Period extension clause, where an end date needs to be inserted. It is understood an option for two dates may be inserted, either a further 12 months to end Dec 2021 or a further 24 months to end Dec 2022. It is expected this will occur by this Sunday.

The Withdrawal Agreement is a legal document, made under EU law, which, if ratified, is international law as respects the UK after its automatic exit at end of March 2019.

Natural Capital Protocol

The Natural Capital Protocol is a standardized framework that helps companies identify, measure and value their impacts and dependencies on natural capital. It was launched in July 2016.

The Council of the European Union, gathered on 17 October 2016 in Luxembourg under the Slovak Presidency, officially recognised the Natural Capital Protocol in the Outcome of the Council meeting. In its conclusions, the Council “considers that mainstreaming biodiversity provides new opportunities for all economic sectors, including the private sector (…); and calls on the business sector to increase its involvement in and contribution to achieving both the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the biodiversity-related Sustainable Development Goals, and to analyse and invest in improvements and report on their impacts, actions and investments related to biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides, sharing experiences and best practices, e.g. in the framework of Business and Biodiversity Platforms as well as other initiatives, such as the Natural Capital Protocol”. 

The Natural Capital Protocol is here.

The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are here.

COP21: Paris Agreement is Adopted

Today, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Change Convention adopted the Paris Agreement. 

The Paris Agreement is found here, at the Annex at the base of the document (the first part is the Proposal). The Agreement commits ratifying countries to a range of actions to combat climate change. I will post further in January.

Article 2

1. This Agreement, in enhancing the implementation of the Convention, including its objective, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by:

(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;

(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate- resilient development.

Article 21

1. This Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

2. Solely for the limited purpose of paragraph 1 of this Article, “total global greenhouse gas emissions” means the most up-to-date amount communicated on or before the date of adoption of this Agreement by the Parties to the Convention.

*** HAPPY CHRISTMAS ***

MARPOL Annex VI: Fuel Oil Sulphur

From 1st January 2015, the sulphur content in ships’ fuel must be below 0.1 % in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA).

Background

International regulations for pollution from ships are contained in the IMO “International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships”, known as MARPOL 73/78. On 27 September 1997, the MARPOL Convention was amended by the “1997 Protocol” which includes Annex VI titled “Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships”. In particular, Annex VI regulates emission of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter. Annex VI entered into force on 19th May 2005 and in October 2008 the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted a set of amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention.

The set of amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention introduces new standards for emission from ships of sulphur oxides (SOx), particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The most stringent changes relate to SOx emission.

Reduction of SOx and particulate matter emission is achieved by limiting the maximum sulphur content of the fuel oils used onboard.

Two sets of emission and fuel quality requirements are defined by Annex VI: (1) global requirements, and (2) more stringent requirements applicable to ships in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA).

On the global level, the sulphur cap is reduced initially to 3.50% (from the current 4.50%), effective from 1st January 2012; then progressively to 0.50 %, effective from 1st January 2020 (or in 2025 at the latest), subject to a feasibility review to be completed no later than 2018.

For SECA, the requirements are – from 1st July 2010, the maximum sulphur limit is reduced to 1.00%, (from 1.50%), while from 1st January 2015, sulphur content in ships’ fuel must be below 0.1 %.

Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA)

Currently, four regions are identified as Sulphur Emission Control Areas. NB: an Emission Control Area can be designated not only for SOx and particulate matter (PM) emission but also for NOx emission, or all three types of emissions from ships. These SECA are:

1. Baltic Sea area – as defined in Annex I of MARPOL (SOx only);

2. North Sea area – as defined in Annex V of MARPOL (SOx only);

3. North American area – as defined in Appendix VII of Annex VI of MARPOL (SOx, NOx and PM); and

4. United States Caribbean Sea area – as defined in Appendix VII of Annex VI of MARPOL (SOx, NOx and PM).

EHS in International Trade Agreements

Law suits to find actionable EHS rights in international trade law may be looking to:

– The North American Free Trade Agreement (NFTA).

Lone Pine Resources Inc v the Government of Canada is an example.

This claim uses NAFTA Chapter 11 to sue Canada for losses alleged to arise for Lone Pine due to “Quebec’s arbitrary, capricious, and illegal revocation” of the company’s “valuable right to mine for oil and gas under the St. Lawrence River.” Chapter 11 of NAFTA allows private companies to sue governments (party to the agreement) when laws (later enacted) hurt their expected profits (investor protection).

– The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

TTIP is not yet agreed, the status of negotiations from the EU perspective is here.

These actions may be additional to those brought to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) under the World Bank ICSID Convention – information about the work of the ICSID is here.

More Stringent Environmental Laws (China)

The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress has approved the first revision to China’s Environmental Protection Law 1989 (EPL), paving the way for higher fines to deter polluters.

According to Xinhua, the revisions call for improved monitoring of both the environment and health; improved survey and risk assessment mechanisms; and more severe punishments for polluting. The revised EPL will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

In addition, The Shanghai Daily reports the Shanghai legislative body plans to produce a new, detailed environmental protection law this year aimed primarily at curbing PM2.5 pollution, which is tiny airborne particles that can pose particularly dangerous health risks.

This Air Pollution law will include exhaust discharge standards for vehicles and local factories as well as measures to control flying dust at construction sites.

A more-stringent Air Quality Index also took effect in November (Shanghai) and in another measure to be launched soon, about a third of local government vehicles will be taken off the road in Shanghai when the air is heavily polluted. Some factories and construction sites will be idled. Some outdoor activities also will be canceled when the index exceeds 300.