Like last three quarters of 2020, almost all quarters of 2021 have shown diminished industrial and commercial activities whereby the growth of the HVAC-R industry has been hampered. However, it does not mean that the industry could not progress at all – as industrial progress cannot always be measured in terms of revenue generation. The slack period provided a great opportunity to the industry to develop its capability in terms of technology, environment-friendliness and disaster management.
One of the major global developments in the in the recent past (around last two years) is massive ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Up to October 15, 2021, 127 states and the European Union have ratified the Kigali Amendment.
Thus, in the coming days, globally, the HVAC-R industry will have to undergo more pressure to align its goal to achieve the targets set by respective countries. At the same time, HVAC-R companies operating in multiple countries will have to ally with the global regulations, standards and developments.
As per United State’s Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) report in the year 2016, “While the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer successfully phased out Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS) and put the ozone layer on the path to a full recovery, it led to a shift towards HydroFluoroCarbons (HFCs). Like the ODS they replaced, HFCs are potent greenhouse gases that can be hundreds to thousands of times more potent than Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in contributing to climate change. Though they represent a small fraction of the current total of all greenhouse gases, their emissions are projected to increase nearly twenty-fold in the coming decades, mostly due to increased demand for refrigeration and air conditioning, particularly in developing countries. If HFC growth continues on the current trajectory, the increase in HFC emissions is projected to offset much of the climate benefit achieved by phasing out ODS.” Thus, there was an urgent need for an amendment of the Montreal Protocol.
A brief recapitulation of the Kigali amendment
On October 15, 2016, with the United States’ leadership, 197 countries adopted an amendment to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda. Under the amendment, countries committed to cut the production and consumption of HFCs by more than 80% over the next 30 years. The ambitious phase down schedule will avoid more than 80 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2050—avoiding up to 0.5° Celsius warming by the end of the century—while continuing to protect the ozone layer. Under the amendment, developed countries will reduce HFC consumption beginning in 2019. Most developing countries will freeze consumption in 2024, with a small number of developing countries with unique circumstances freezing consumption in 2028. The plan also provides financing to certain countries, to help them transition to climate-friendly alternatives. Key elements of the Kigali Amendment include:
- Innovative and flexible structure;
- Ambitious phasedown schedule;
- Incentive for early action;
- Broad participation;
- Enforcement and accountability; and
- Multiple opportunities to increase ambition.
Following ratification by 65 countries, the Kigali Amendment came into force on January 1, 2019. Although, the Kigali Amendment has potential to avoid the use of HFCs equivalent of more than 70 billion tons of CO2 over the next 35 years, achieving a nearly 90% reduction in global warming resulting from unconstrained HFC use by the end of the century, many countries, for example: Cameroon (August 24, 2021), China (June 17, 2021), EL Salvador (September 13, 2021), Serbia (October 8, 2021), Tunisia (August 27, 2021 and Turkey (November 10, 2021) have delayed the process of ratification.
Even the Union Cabinet of India, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, gave its approval for ratification of the Kigali Amendment in August 2021, and formed a National strategy for phase down of Hydrofluorocarbons after required consultation with all the industry stakeholders by 2023. Finally the ratification was done in September 2021.
Recently in November 2021, the White House (US) has sent the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to the Senate for its advice and consent for ratification.
COP 26 and a few developments
It is evident that very less amount of work has been done to mitigate HFCs under the Kigali amendment. It’s not an easy task, especially for the developing countries owing to their financial constraints. Still COP 26 has something to bid hope.
As per United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), “Finance was extensively discussed throughout the session and there was consensus in the need to continue increasing support to developing countries. The call to at least double finance for adaptation was welcomed by the Parties. The duty to fulfil the pledge of providing 100 billion dollars annually from developed to developing countries was also reaffirmed. And a process to define the new global goal on finance was launched.
On mitigation, the persistent gap in emissions has been clearly identified and parties (participating countries) collectively agreed to work to reduce that gap and to ensure that the world continues to advance during the present decade, so that the rise in the average temperature is limited to 1.5 degrees. Parties are encouraged to strengthen their emissions reductions and to align their national climate action pledges with the Paris Agreement.
In addition, a key outcome is the conclusion of the so-called Paris rulebook. An agreement was reached on the fundamental norms related to Article 6 on carbon markets, which will make the Paris Agreement fully operational. This will give certainty and predictability to both market and non-market approaches in support of mitigation as well as adaptation. And the negotiations on the Enhanced Transparency Framework were also concluded, providing for agreed tables and formats to account and report for targets and emissions.”
Expressing her hope for a fruitful implementation of the Paris agreement, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change said, “I thank the Presidency and all Ministers for their tireless efforts throughout the conference and I congratulate all parties on finalizing the rulebook. This is an excellent achievement! It means that the Paris Agreement can now function fully for the benefit of all, now and in the future.”
However, indicating his weak faith on the pace of development, Alok Sharma, UK President of COP26 said, “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action. I am grateful to the UNFCCC for working with us to deliver a successful COP26.”
The latest edition of Conference of Parties has once again elaborately defined the challenge of climate deterioration and discussed multiple pledges. The developing countries will receive several kinds of assistance including financial aids. However, the determination has to be there among the governments to translate the plans into actions in a time-bound manner. Absence of effective and timely implementation of the plans and programmes will not yield any effective result.
Historically, many times it has been verified that developing countries follow the path of the developed ones. In 2011, the European Commission adopted a roadmap for developing a low carbon economy. In November 2020, Russia put forward an updated emissions reduction target of at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2030. In October 2021 (in COP 26), China has presented its White Paper detailing its plans, actions and achievements in this regard. Now, it is time to watch the next steps of the Big Brother. So, let us wait hopefully and watch the forthcoming actions.
By P. K. Chatterjee (PK)