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Maximising the benefits of the global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons

This paper, published for the 30th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, discusses what is at stake in the implementation of the HFCs phase-down and related activities.

It describes a suite of measures that, if taken together, will maximise the benefits of the phase-down of HFC refrigerants with high global warming potential, both in terms of the greenhouse gas emissions, and additional, sustainable development co-benefits.

Summary

The proliferation of household air conditioners and refrigerators across the world, including the rapid growth expected in developing countries, gives us an opportunity, right now, to ensure that the appliances we choose have minimum impact on the global climate and maximise sustainable development. 

Last year’s hard-won Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol ensured a commitment to remove HFC refrigerants with high global warming potential, through a global phase-down. Maximising the climate change and related benefits of this phase-down will depend on three elements coming together: 

  • countries choosing refrigerants with the lowest global warming potentials 
  • ensuring promotion of the most energy efficient cooling technologies 
  • a rapid move to renewable energy to power these appliances.

The right combination of these three elements will ensure that greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetime of each appliance are minimised.  

Minimising greenhouse gas emissions

Achieving each of these elements will require a range of actions, including addressing financing and cost issues, supporting capacity building and training, developing energy infrastructure plans and updating safety and energy efficiency standards.

These diverse actions will need to be coordinated strategically, often across a number of distinct but critical venues, including the Montreal Protocol, the UNFCCC, various regional groups and domestic policy-making. 

As we implement both the Montreal Protocol Kigali Amendment and the Paris Agreement, making the right coordinated and complementary decisions across these issues and venues will be essential to deliver a safe world with below 1.5C of global warming.

Air conditioning units