By Peter Powell
The long-term availability of HFCs survived another effort at phase-down during the 23rd Meeting of the Parties (MOP23) to the Montreal Protocol held in November 2011. Participants did not reach agreement on taking any action to control HFCs. A proposal for phase-down of HFCs did not advance very far at the meeting. Opponents led by representatives from China, India, and Brazil continued to argue that the Montreal Protocol was designed to address ozone depleting gases, of which HFCs are not. They said any issue related to HFCs should be in the context of the Kyoto Protocol, which was established to address the global warming issue. Kyoto, however, has not made significant progress in that regard.
At the same time, efforts continued to get global warming potential (GWP) gases incorporated into the Montreal Protocol. Some 29 delegations from developed and developing countries as well as several environmentalist groups voiced support for controlling HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. Seven country delegations and one organization from China expressed opposition. But the effort did not produce consensus on GWP gases falling under Montreal Protocol regulations.
There was an event at the conference set up by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which had issued a report called HFCs: A Critical Link In Protecting Climate and the Ozone Layer. That document included information on what UNEP called “low-GWP alternatives” such as CO2, ammonia, and hydrocarbons (HCs). The report also looked at what might happen to climate change if use of HFCs continues to rise.
Issues related to HFCs continue in Europe. The European Commission (EC) is reviewing existing F-gas regulations to identify options that could reduce such emissions within the European Union. Options being looked at include how to tax F-gases, a phase-down of HFC use, and HFCs being banned in certain applications.
At the same time, the HVACR industry called for a broader-based and more balanced approach. The European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) and the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB) of the United Kingdom voiced support for “a strengthened approach to the implementation and enforcement of current regulatory requirements with the minor additional requirements added to the existing legislation as the most cost-effective measure in terms of benefit to reduced emissions and least negative impact on business or administration costs.”
It was ACRIB’s contention that “unless policy measures are taken on a global level, a shift to alternatives with lower or no GWP would have harmful impact on European business.”
Some companies represented by EPEE said that any phase-down related to HFCs should be based on CO2 equivalent content of HFCs.
As in North America, HFC uses in stationary equipment are currently not on any phase-down schedule in Europe.
Publication date: 01/09/2012