Kigali agreement: Phasing out the use of HFCs

Panel and participants in general assembly

Delegates during the final plenary; Photo: IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

The 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, held in Rwanda from 10 to 14 October 2016, has set a milestone for climate change mitigation. The Kigali Amendment to the Protocol now mandates the long-term, phased elimination of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) for industrialised and developing countries. Industrialised countries are to cut HFC use by 85% by the year 2036, while developing and newly industrialising countries are to achieve cuts of 80% and 85% respectively over the period from 2024 to 2047. The Kigali agreement thus expands the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which already established a commitment to phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in order to protect the ozone layer.

HFCs are largely chlorine-free and therefore not ozone-depleting. However, their global warming impact is many times more damaging than that of carbon dioxide. HFCs are used as substitutes for ozone-depleting CFCs, mainly in refrigerators and air-conditioning systems.

The International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) has worked since 2008 to assist developing and newly-industrialising countries in phasing out ozone-depleting substances and meeting their commitments under the Montreal Protocol. One key approach is to promote energy-efficient technologies based on natural refrigerants and propellants. This can prevent the utilisation of synthetic substances such as HFCs, with a sustained positive effect for the climate. It has been shown that this approach can avoid more than 100 million tCO2-equivalent over the next 20 years.

In addition to the historic decision, the Kigali meeting also involved various side events addressing environmentally sound substitutes for the refrigeration sector. In this field, the Proklima programme implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a major player. Carrying out IKI-funded projects, Proklima has worked for many years to limit HFC use.

One of these side events reported on the completed IKI project titled ‘Converting a production facility to the manufacture of climate-friendly air-conditioning equipment’. The project helped an Indian air-conditioning systems manufacturer in converting its production to systems using environmentally sound hydrocarbon refrigerants and introducing energy-efficient technology, thereby establishing a best-practice model. This project was promoted with a BMUB grant of two million Euros through IKI.

The event further presented the project ‘Switching to natural refrigerants in the manufacture of commercial refrigeration equipment’, which assisted local manufacturer Palfridge in Swaziland. Within the context of the Green Cooling Initiative, a separate event presented the propane (R290) refrigerant, a natural alternative for the refrigeration sector that does not contribute to global warming. The Green Cooling Initiative works, with IKI support, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the sector. The initiative combines three approaches: promoting natural refrigerants, improving energy efficiency and fostering sustainable consumption.

Photo: IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth