Last month, the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, welcomed colleagues from around the world for the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, and to celebrate the historic ratification of the Kigali Amendment by over 20 countries.
The Montreal Protocol is a landmark treaty credited with saving the ozone layer and preventing even greater global warming by phasing out most emissions from ozone-destroying substances. Unfortunately, HFC’s, the product designated as a suitable alternative coolant, has a warming potential of hundreds, even thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide. What’s worrying about these substances, is that as the greenhouse effect heats up the world, demand for air conditioners will rise. If the world doesn’t change the technology used to cool ourselves, we are in danger of cooking the planet and creating a vicious cycle.
Created in 2016, the Kigali Amendment addressed the climate impact of chemicals used in fridges and air conditioners. It aims to set a phasedown path for HFCs and is estimated that it will prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius in global warming above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. As of last month, 22 countries had ratified the agreement and so it will come into force on January 1st 2019. However, universal ratification by all countries is needed for the impact to be felt around the world.
A key part of the agreement is a fund to assist in financing the transition in poorer countries to help them catch up with the latest technology. Developing countries will receive $540 million to speed up the phase out in the places that need it most and where the greatest benefit to the global climate can be delivered.
Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna said: “The Montreal Protocol is an example of how we can come together, that we can do what naysayers think is impossible, that we can heal our planet.”
During the meeting, the countries requested the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol evaluate the options for enhancing energy efficiency of appliances and equipment in the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry while phasing down HFCs under the Kigali Amendment.
They also requested regular updates on the safety standards relevant to the use of flammable low-global warming potential alternatives to HFCs. This is crucial for ensuring the safe market introduction, manufacturing, operation, maintenance and handling of low GWP refrigerants that are used in many sectors.
The Kigali deal establishes a clear HFC phase-down schedule. The HVAC&R sector must now deliver the technology solutions – including natural refrigerant-based equipment – that will help achieve the Kigali targets. For now, contractors can continue their installation and maintenance work as before but will need to make sure their technicians have the information they need to install new equipment safely while using alternative refrigerants.
· To date, the Montreal Protocol has phased out almost 100 of the most ozone-depleting substances; it reduced emissions equivalent to over 135 billion tons of carbon dioxide; and it continues to help the recovery of the hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer.
· As the most successful international environmental agreement, the Montreal Protocol has eliminated over 99 percent of substances that were thinning the Earth’s protective ozone layer.
· Canada published new regulations that will reduce its annual consumption of hydrofluorocarbons by 85 percent, by 2036. HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases used in commercial, industrial, and residential applications such as refrigeration, air-conditioning, foam insulation, and aerosols.