Yesterday, ASHRAE commended the governments involved in the adoption of the HFC amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which will result in a global phase down of production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The agreement was signed earlier this week.
The move comes as ASHRAE and a number of U.S. government agencies, built environment associations, and companies launch a multi-million dollar research program that will establish a more robust fact base about the properties and the use of flammable refrigerants.
The research is part of a $5.8 million program funded by ASHRAE; the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM); the California Air Resources Board (CARB); and Johnson Controls. This program is part of an ongoing global effort to phase down the use of high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and identify appropriate climate-friendly alternatives.
“Flammable refrigerants hold great promise for reducing the use of HFCs in refrigerants and thereby lowering the environmental impact of air-conditioning and refrigeration systems,” ASHRAE President Tim Wentz, said. “ASHRAE applauds the Kigali Amendment and is pleased to be a partner in cutting edge research effort to better understand how to safely deploy flammable refrigerants.”
Agreed upon on October 14, 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, an amendment to the Montreal Protocol (dubbed the Kigali Amendment) calls for developed countries including the U.S. and EU to start to phase down HFCs by 2019 and a group of developing countries such as China, Brazil, and most of Africa to follow with a freeze of HFCs consumption levels in 2024, and India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait in 2028.
The agreement calls for reduction of HFCs equivalent to 80b metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2047 and will help prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century. Several ASHRAE members were among those attending the Protocol meetings. Among them were ASHRAE Presidential Member Jim Wolf and ASHRAE Director-at-Large Bill McQuade.
“The update of product safety standards and building codes to include A2L refrigerants is essential to the success of this agreement,” McQuade said. “The interest in our A2L research program by the parties was very high. In fact, several indicated to me interest in becoming a partner and funding additional research in the future.”
The amendment is not a done deal, however. “American experts on international environmental law say ratifying the new HFC agreement would almost certainly require a two-thirds vote from the Senate,” wrote John Upton of Climate Central, a Princeton, NJ based independent organization of scientists and journalists.