THE Australian federal government introduced legislation to Parliament on March 30 that will bring about the nation’s HFC phase-down, in compliance with the Montreal Protocol, which was amended at a historic meeting in Kigali, Rwanda last year to include high global warming potential (GWP) HFCs.
Under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Amendment Bill 2017, HFC imports will be phased down from January 1 next year, with a target of reducing imports by 85 per cent by 2036. HFC emissions from refrigerants, fire extinguishers and foam blowing currently account for around two per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution.
The new legislation will enable new regulations to be introduced, including bans on importing equipment that uses high-GWP refrigerants.
Across the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry, the HFC phase-down has been welcomed as providing business with long-term certainty as well as guaranteeing improvements to the environment. Providing further certainty, the legislation is expected to pass through both houses without controversy.
In addition to the Australian effort, all signatories to the Montreal Protocol have pledged to reduce HFC emissions, the effect of which is estimated to reduce global carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by up to 72 billion tonnes by 2050. For perspective, this figure is equal to around 1.3 times the amount of the entire world’s annual carbon emissions.
Refrigerants Australia executive director Greg Picker predicted the local HFC phase-down will reduce Australian carbon-equivalent emissions by 80 million tonnes by 2030.
“In shifting from ozone depleting substances in the 1990s, the refrigeration and air conditioning industry has already delivered more emission reductions than any other sector of the Australian economy,” he said.
The Montreal Protocol was originally conceived to save the ozone layer by banning CFCs such as R12 and was so successful that it became the basis of a global HFC phase-down. Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer is expected to recover by the 2050s for the majority of latitudes, with the Antarctic ozone hole predicted to be gone by around 2070.