Last year we kept you informed on the status of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a global phase-down of HFC refrigerants. As we head into 2019 we wanted to provide you with a quick recap and update on the progress of the amendment.
- The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is an agreement between the original members of the Montreal Protocol to phase-down HFC refrigerants by more than 80% over the next 30 years. If fully adopted the amendment has the potential to avoid up to 0.5ºC of warming by 2100.
- In order for the Kigali Amendment to enter into force, 20 members of the Montreal Protocol had to ratify it by 1/1/19. That was successfully done with over 20 members and now the amendment has officially begun.
- Of the over 170 members of the Montreal Protocol who originally agreed on the amendment, to date, only 69 countries have ratified it. This could be because the two largest consumers and producers of HFC’s, the United States and China, have not said whether they will move forward with ratification or not. Without their participation, the amendment cannot reach it’s global phase-down goals and will be much less effective. This uncertainty hurts the HVACR industry. Numerous organizations, senators, and CEO’s of major companies in the HVACR industry have asked the administration to send the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for a vote in order to increase jobs, solidify global trade access, and provide certainty for research and development. See the full economic impact of what ratifying the Kigali Amendment would do for the U.S. economy here.
- While there has been no indication that the United States will ratify Kigali under the current administration, if China ratifies the amendment, and U.S. does not, it could have huge trade implications for the United States. Beginning in 2033, those who have ratified the Kigali Amendment are banned from trading with those who have not. Consider if China moved forward with ratification, they would have the access to trade with Europe, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and many other major and developing countries and the U.S. would be isolated from trading with these countries.
- Besides climate change and global trade implications, another major consequence of the United States not ratifying the Kigali Amendment is a state by state phase-down of HFCs that will confuse and complicate the marketplace. California has already implemented their own legislation to ban high GWP HFC’s in supermarket applications and starting in 2020 will ban R404A and R507a for new medium-temperature stand-alone units with a compressor capacity of 2,200 BTU/hr or greater, and containing a flooded evaporator, as well as for all new low-temperature stand-alone units. Following California’s lead, Washington state, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have legislation planned to phase-down HFC refrigerants and more states have indicated they will follow suit. It could become very hard for those in the HVACR industry to accommodate differing selling restrictions and phase-down plans on a state by state basis.
- Interestingly, the absence of Kigali ratification has created more time for the natural refrigerant market to create guidelines and increase charge limit values, which the market needed in order to be widely adopted.
- If Kigali is ratified we will need a replacement for HFC’s. Currently the best options are HFO’s and/or natural refrigerants. However, if the industry had certainty that the phase-down of HFC’s would be mandated through the Kigali Amendment there could be other HFC alternatives created through research and development.