The Green Transformation

HFC Phase Out Spurs Natural Refrigerant Growth
Refrigeration manufacturers said they would make production plans and future product development decisions according to the expected worldwide HFC refrigerant phase down put forth by the Kigali Amendment. The amendment, last year’s Montreal Protocol add-on, will specify phase-out deadlines for HFC’s, adding those refrigerants with high global warming potential to the group of ozone depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons that are already being outlawed under the international agreement.

Meanwhile, UN officials and manufacturers said they believed the amendment would encourage investment in clean, energy efficient technologies such as natural refrigerants and prompt countries with developing cold chains to skip traditionally used HFCs and HCFCs in favor of moving directly to low-global-warming replacements.

“This is about much more than the ozone layer and HFCs. It is a clear statement by all world leaders that the green transformation started in Paris is irreversible and unstoppable. It shows the best investments are those in clean, efficient technologies.” said UN Environment chief Erik Solheim.

Mark Menzer, director of public affairs for manufacturer, Danfoss, said the Kigali Amendment will allow both manufacturers and users of equipment to make clear plans for what lies ahead. “Even though we don’t have a full set of rules yet, we can look at the scheduled Kigali timeframe and pretty much figure out what refrigerants need to be phased out when and plan accordingly.”

Lowell Randel, vice president, government affairs for the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, said industry by and large has supported the Kigali agreement. He said that while some countries may have concerns about what the transition process will do to their economies, the agreement gives them additional time to meet the goals.

The Kigali Amendment establishes multiple legally binding schedules for participating countries to cap and phase down the use of HFCs in favor of alternatives which have lower global warming potential. The Kigali Amendment will enter into force on Jan. 1, 2019, if it is ratified by at least 20 parties to the Montreal Protocol or 90 days after ratification by the 20th party, whichever is later.

The Amendment contains several schedules: two schedules for two groups of developed countries and two schedules for two groups of developing countries.

“The developing countries have a much later freeze or cap followed by reductions,” said Lambert Kuijpers, who served as a senior expert to the United Nations Environment Program’s Technology and Economic Assessment Panel.

The phase-down for developed countries, including the United States and the European Union, starts in 2019, assuming the amendment has been ratified by then. Most developing countries, including China, several Asian and all South American and African countries will freeze at a certain level of HFC consumption in 2024 and begin reducing their use with a 10 percent reduction in 2029.

Other countries, including India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation countries, will freeze their use in 2028 and make a 10 percent reduction in HFC consumption in 2032. More steps will follow.

The nearly 200 nations and parties to the Protocol, who met in Kigali, Rwanda, in October 2016 have been supportive of the action. In Europe, adoption is moving ahead, while in the U.S., political uncertainty may briefly stall action on the initiative, but is not expected to create too much of a delay.

In early February, the European Commission adopted a proposal for the EU to ratify the Kigali amendment. “Not only will this landmark deal help us meet our climate objectives, but also it will provide new opportunities for European manufacturers of air conditioning and refrigerants to access the global market, creating additional jobs and attracting new investment,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy.

In the United States, uncertainty remains over how the Trump administration will respond and whether or not the U.S. will ratify the amendment.

IIAR’s Randel said industry groups have sent letters to the administration and to members of Congress, asking them to move forward with the agreement. “The fact that industry has generally been supportive of Kigali may mean that this is a fight the Trump administration doesn’t feel it needs to get into.”

At a meeting in Las Vegas, Rajan Rajendran, vice president of System Innovation Center and sustainability for Emerson, said that although the United States’ participation in the Kigali Amendment is uncertain with a Trump presidency, the path for Emerson and other global manufacturers is clear.

“As a global company we have to be able to meet the needs of our customers in Europe, Asia, Latin America and so on,” Rajendran said. “And to the extent that all of them are going to sign on to the Kigali amendment and start acting upon some of these phase-outs, we are going to have to think about the products we offer to the rest of the world. So even if we don’t necessarily go through some of [the Kigali amendments] step downs in the United States, it is still happening elsewhere.”

Even if the U.S. were to fail to ratify the Kigali Amendment, Randel said he believes other countries will stay in. Randel said he believes that countries are planning to move forward with whatever their responsibilities would be under a ratified Kigali amendment. “When you look at European countries, most of them are where they need to be or getting close because of the EU policies. You have other countries that are not as far along as the EU but they will continue their efforts.”

Kuijpers said the EU’s 2014 Fgas regulation targets a 79 percent reduction by the year 2030, from the baseline year 2015.

He added that the Kigali Amendment does not present a more stringent phase-down schedule than the schedule the EU has already embraced. “Under the Montreal Protocol, there are 194 countries in total, of which 40 countries are developed countries. In the developed countries, a large amount have already worked on how to deal with curbing HFC consumption,” Kuijpers said, adding that he believes it will be easy to have the 20 necessary parties ratify the Kigali Amendment. “People will ratify it because it will enable certain things to happen.”

Menzer said the goal is to keep countries from going from HCFCs to HFCs and then to something else. “That is the path we went in this country. We’re trying to get China and other developing countries to skip that HFC step entirely and go [directly] to low-global-warming replacements.”

As one of the signatories to the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, India has committed to cutting down HFC use, and Honeywell has opened a new laboratory at the Honeywell India Technology Center in Gurgaon, Haryana, India. The company said the new laboratory will support local and regional partners in designing, incubating and testing new refrigerants and help them transition to low-global-warmingpotential alternatives.

“Honeywell is committed to providing next-generation solutions that are available today as an option to support the Indian government on transitioning from HFCs to environmentally preferable materials,” said Julien Soulet, managing director for Honeywell Fluorine Products in Europe, Middle East, Africa and India. “With the launch of this laboratory at HITC, we look forward to working hand-in-hand with our Indian partners to design near drop-in refrigeration solutions that help them meet their environmental commitments.”

Kuijpers said that between 2017 and 2019, many parties are expected to ratify the Kigali Amendment. “How to achieve the phase-down is something that has not been decided in all detail and that cannot logically not be expected at this moment,” he said, adding that he expects ammonia and carbon dioxide will help countries meet their HFC reduction goals.