UK ratifies the Kigali amendment on HFCs

The UK has become one of the first nations to ratify the landmark Kigali Agreement to phase down harmful hydrofluorocarbon greenhouse gases (HFCs) commonly found in appliances such as air conditioning units and refrigerators.

Defra announced on Tuesday (14 November) that the UK became on of the first nations to complete ratification of the Kigali amendment to the UN Montreal Protocol to reduce HFCs by 85% between 2019 and 2036.

The UK, along with the rest of the European Union (EU), had instigated a phase-out of HFCs, aiming to reduce emissions by 79% between 2015 and 2030. It is believed that the Kigali amendment is likely to avoid close to 0.5C of global warming by the end of the century, if successfully implemented.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Adopting this ambitious target marks the UK as a world leader in tackling climate change. This deal will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of around 70 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 – the same as more than 600 coal fired power stations would produce during that time.”

The ratification will provide a benefit for the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful treaties around, having reduced 98% of ozone depleting gas such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The Kigali amendment, agreed in October 2016, specifically targets HFCs, which have a global warming potential thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.

Cool runnings

Defra claims that ratification of the Montreal Protocol will result in a reduction equivalent to around 44 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the UK alone.  

The phasedown on HFCs will see developed countries target an 85% reduction by 2036, while developing countries will shoot for an 80% reduction between 2024 and 2045. Ten developing nations, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, The United Arab Emirates, Iran and Iraq, have agreed to an 85% reduction between 2028 and 2047.

At a business level, things appear a little less promising. A report released last month suggests that European retailers are behind schedule to implement natural refrigerants into operations.

Retailers are large users of HFC systems, and an average supermarket refrigeration system can leak up to a quarter of its refrigerant charge annually, the equivalent of more than 1,500 metric tonnes of carbon emissions.

Food retailers should have installed 18,500 low Global Warming Potential systems in 2015 alone, the report found. However, only 9,000 systems have been installed across Europe to date, while just 500 stores have wholly converted to water-cooled hydrocarbon integrals.

Matt Mace

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