Participants attending ATMOsphere America in Chicago last week heard from U.S., Canadian and Mexican government representatives how progressive new policies are helping to widen the uptake of natural refrigerant-based HVAC&R solutions in North America and beyond.
Phasing down HFCs in Canada and Mexico
René Desjardins from Environment Canada said Canada is in the process of devising new regulatory measures to reduce consumption of HFCs through a combination of phase-down and product-specific controls.
Phase-down provisions would apply to companies importing bulk HFCs. Four sectors are targeted: refrigeration and air conditioning, mobile air conditioning, foam products, and aerosol products. According to the proposed regulation, product-specific controls would probibit the import and manufacture of products or systems that contain HFCs.
HFCs contained in pre-charged products or equipment are not considered bulk and would therefore not be included in the phase-down, Desjardins explained. Such equipment would instead fall under the remit of the product-specific controls.
The proposed new regulation would ban the use of HFCs in certain refrigeration and air conditioning sectors from a specific year, similar to the approach taken by the EU's F-Gas Regulation and California's proposed strategy. However it sets rather high GWP limits for most applications. For example, in centralised refrigeration and stand-alone low temperature refrigeration, it tables a limit of 1,500 by 2020. Stakeholders still have the opportunity to comment on Canada's proposed regulation, said Desjardins. This could potentially open the door to an even lower GWP target level, helping to drive the introduction of natural refrigerants.
Augustin Sanchez from Mexico’s Ozone Protection Unit presented the country’s HFC phase-down strategy, arguing that the best way to phase down HFCs is to control their production and consumption.
Mexico passed a Climate Change General Law in 2012, which set targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a 30% by 2020 and by 50% by 2050, taking 2000 as the baseline. It also has a special programme for climate change and a National Emission Registry.
“Key barriers to the phase down of HFCs are lack of availability of alternatives, lack of capacity in the service sector, lack of funding, and resistance to change,” said Sanchez.
Tom Land from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) described how the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program for approving the use of climate-friendly refrigerants is also prohibiting the use of some of the most harmful ones.
Land warned that use and emissions of HFCs, as replacements for ozone-depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol and as a part of the global expansion of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, are growing rapidly. Natural refrigerant-based technologies play a key role in helping to combat rising HFC emissions.
Meanwhile, an Executive Order and Federal Acquisition Regulation orders Federal Government bodies to procure alternatives to HFCs with high global warming potential. “Imagine how many coolers we have – that makes a big difference!” Land said.
$20m incentive proposed under SLCP Strategy
Glenn Gallagher from California Air Resources Board (CARB) presented the organisation’s proposed HFC phase-down plan under the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Strategy.
“Our SLCP plan requires CARB to address emissions of HFCs with an ambitious goal to reduce them by 40% below 2013 levels by 2030. We are very neutral in terms of technology or chemicals – what we’re interested in is greenhouse gas reductions,” he stressed.
CARB is proposing to provide $20m as an incentive to develop low-GWP HVAC&R technology and is willing to phase down HFCs in California in the absence of any global or national phase-down plan. CARB is supportive of North American efforts to pursue a phase-down but believes that current action is not ambitious enough.
Nevertheless, he admitted that he would be happy to see CARB’s proposed new policy superseded by similarly ambitious national-level proposals from the EPA.
“We’d love to see a global phase down too, but we’re not going to wait for that to happen,” said Gallagher.
Policy developments driving natural refrigerants beyond North America
shecco’s Klara Skacanova outlined policy trends for natural refrigerants around the world, such as the EU's F-Gas Regulation (the significance of which she expects to grow in 2017) and Japan's revised F-Gas Law. She argued that the global HFC phase-down will soon become a reality.
“2016 is the key year for making progress towards a global HFC phase-down. The global HFC phase-down will soon become a reality – whether it’s this year or next year, it’s going to happen,” Skacanova said.