The US is attempting to pave the way for an HFC Phase Down.
While CFCs and HCFCs are headed out the door by 2020, the fate of HFCs has been a decided phase down instead of a phase out. This would require an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, starting a phasedown in 2020 and ending in 2050 with an 85% reduction in the production and consumption of HFCs. The US proposal will be taken into consideration this month at the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.
This is not the first time that this issue has been taken into consideration. HFC reduction has been brought to the table on three separate occasions at previous Meetings of the Parties, and is typically stonewalled by nations such as China, Brazil, and Argentina. After a meeting with President Obama this spring, however, it is unclear what stance should be expected from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
There is a national push in the US to lean towards making technological improvements on equipment running on natural refrigerants, making them cost competitive and energy efficient. President Obama has also advocated moving away from HFCs “regardless of the pace of global talks.”
So, what’s the takeaway from these discussions surrounding HFC reduction?
- Anyone working with HFCs does not have much to worry about in their immediate future as far as regulations and phase outs are concerned
- This may, however, not be the case for companies down the road
- More equipment will start running on naturals in the US
- Codes and training that encourage natural refrigerants will be in the foreground of industry talks
With the recent shutdown reducing the role of the United States government, it will be interesting to note how much effort is put in by the DOE and EPA to figure out the steps for a phase down. Regardless of our government’s role in an HFC phase down, it would be a wise idea for companies to start investing training and understanding of natural and alternative refrigerants as talks turn into plans and plans turn into actions.