Pacific Island Countries Gearing up to Enact HFC Licensing Systems

Date: 19 November 2020
Pacific Island Countries Gearing up to Enact HFC Licensing Systems
Pacific Island Countries Gearing up to Enact HFC Licensing Systems
The Pacific region is renowned for its serene and prestigious islands, including its diverse and rich ecosystems, but that natural and human wealth continues to face the major threat of climate change. Furthermore, with the current travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the region faces additional challenges on how to implement activities under the ‘new normal.’ Nevertheless, in spite of these obstacles, the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have continued to keep their work on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer sailing steadily ahead, through a combination of great determination, mutual support and online meetings.

On 16 October 2020, 50 National Ozone Officers and Customs Authorities from 14 PICs ‒ Cook Islands, Kiribati, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu ‒ as well as representatives from Australia, the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO), and UNEP OzonAction, rallied together virtually to review the status of the development and the enactment of national licensing systems to control the trade of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Such trade controls are required under the Montreal Protocol for countries that are Party to the Kigali Amendment, which require Parties to establish their HFC licensing system by 1 January 2021.

Notably, 11 out of the 14 countries in the Pacific region have already ratified the Kigali Amendment, and two of them have already put in place their HFC licensing systems. The rest are now gearing up to meet the initial obligations. The meeting provided a forum for the National Ozone Officers to discuss progress and challenges in the amendment of the existing regulation, and to identify the support needed from UNEP’s Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP). The PICs that are Party to the Kigali Amendment agreed to expedite the internal process for enacting the HFC licensing system by 1 January 2021.

The National Ozone Officers, Ms. Francesca Sungino from Palau and Ms. Roselyn Bue from Vanuatu shared their experiences and advised that the establishment/amendment of regulations for HFC trade control is a lengthy process and there is a need to revisit and revise the draft before final approval, therefore earlier action is required.

Customs codes are vital for controlling and monitoring the trade of the controlled substances across borders. The meeting further updated and discussed challenges in the implementation of the regional harmonized system (HS) code for HFCs under the Pacific Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System 2017 (PACHS17) at the national level and further discussed the preparation of the HS code for HFCs under the PACHS22. Ms. Laisiana Tugaga of OCO said that the implementation of the PACHS17 requires a holistic approach for effective implementation. Based on the lessons learned from the PACHS17, the OCO is working on the draft PACHS22 in advance to allow sufficient time for the members to adopt and follow internal procedures for implementation of PACHS22 from 1 January 2022. OCO welcomed collaboration from UNEP to assign the HS code for commonly used HFCs under the PACHS22.

The meeting further discussed other feasible approaches to assist the countries in tracking HFC imports to support the HS code implementation.

Mr. Shaofeng Hu, Senior Montreal Protocol Regional Coordinator, UNEP OzonAction, Asia and the Pacific Office stated, “We all agree that the next two months are very critical for Parties to the Kigali Amendment and to work with the national stakeholders to get close follow up on the HFC licensing system and to make sure that countries put that in place by January 2021. After the establishment of the licensing system, there is need to strengthen the monitoring, reporting, verification and enforcement (MRVE) and most importantly the need to strengthen collaboration between the National Ozone Units and Customs Authorities,” said

The virtual meeting was organized as part of the UNEP’s OzonAction Regional CAP work plan for 2020 to support countries in meeting and sustaining their Montreal Protocol commitments.

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