International agreement will eliminate HFC refrigerants

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Some of the industry’s most widely used refrigerants will be phased out following an international agreement to further limit substances that cause global warming.

Early in the morning of Oct. 15 representatives from over 190 countries, including Canada and the U.S., signed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that calls for the complete elimination of hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants by 2050. This includes refrigerants such as R-134a, R-410a and R-407c. The change is designed to prevent a 0.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of this century.

The agreement came at the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, in Kigali, Rwanda. It will allow the use of the Montreal Protocol, designed to preserve the ozone Layer, to phase-out HFCs, a set of 19 gases used extensively in air-conditioning and refrigeration. HFCs are not ozone depleting, but cause a dramatic increase in global warming when released into the atmosphere.

The agreement came at 7 a.m. local time after negotiators sat through the night to iron out their differences, particularly between India and the U.S. But they had already agreed on the bigger issues on Friday during the two rounds of talks between India’s Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, reported The Indian Express (Online), New Delhi, India.

The amendment is intended to reduce HFC production and consumption by at least 85 per cent compared to annual average values in the “rich” industrialized countries for the period 2011-2013. A group of “developing countries” including China, Brazil and South Africa are mandated to reduce their HFC use by 85 per cent of their average value in 2020-22 by the year 2045. India and some other developing countries — Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and some oil economies like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — will cut down their HFCs by 85 per cent of their values in 2024-26 by the year 2047.

The amendment is considered absolutely vital for reaching the Paris Agreement target of keeping global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times. Watch for more information in the next issue of Plumbing & HVAC Magazine.

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