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AHRI and UN partner on global alternative refrigerant drive

Refrigerant Driving License (RDL) initiative has seen pilot projects held in Kigali this week to begin support developing nations in handling and managing move from HFCs

A joint global initiative between the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and the UN Environment Programme has launched this week to support a range of developing nations to move to alternative refrigerant.

A first round of training for the Refrigerant Driving License (RDL) initiative was held in Kigali, Rwanda between June 24 and June 27 in order to build up expertise for training individuals around the world in bracing for a phase-out of HFC products as required under the Montreal Protocol.

Kigali was the location where a major amendment to the previous Montreal Protocol global commitment was agreed to further commit to a stricter goal for tackling ozone depleting substances.

AHRI president Stephen Yurek said the organisation had partnered with the UN to take a more global perspective on ensuring industry capability was sufficient to look at more environmentally friendly alternatives to cooling.

He said, “It is especially fitting that the first pilot program is held in Kigali, whose name is associated with the most recent amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which AHRI fully supports.”

The scope of the RDL is intended to set out requirements on meeting the minimum requirements for best practice in handling refrigerants in a range of cooling functions.

The first ‘train-the-trainer’ event held in Kigali was intended to give a more comprehensive means of training up a refrigerant management expert that can then work with local people to upskill and push best practice defined under RDL around the country.

A statement from the AHRI added, “The local trainers will then train an initial pool of approximately 100 local technicians in the proper and safe handling of refrigerants.”

Grenada, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Suriname, as well as Trinidad and Tobago will be participating in similar pilot programmes over the next few months to try and further ensure sufficient skills are in place to handle new forms of refrigerant in their respective countries.

Evaluations of the pilot projects will then be used by the AHRI and the UN to determine the future RDL training programmes around the world.

Meanwhile, in the US….

The AHRI has committed itself, alongside supporting a focus on training in developing nations, to ensure the US meets its obligations within the Kigali Amendment. This focus will be important for cooling policy in the country after the US government announced in 2017 it was dropping commitments to the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP).

SNAP, which seeks to restrict emissions of ozone depleting substances and replace them with safer alternatives, was amended under the presidency of Barack Obama to try and reduce emissions of HFCs in refrigerant.

However, a ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency that deemed HFC use as “unacceptable” under SNAP was reversed in 2017 by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. This decision was later upheld by the US Supreme court creating uncertainty over HFC policy in the US.

AHRI Chair Bill Steel told RAC Magazine last year that ensuring a national approach is in place to curb a reliance on using higher GWP HFC gas for the purposes of cooling were among the institute’s key priorities as he was taking up leadership of the group.

Mr Steel said the AHRI would focus on ensuring that the US cooling industry worked to a global phase down schedule with regard to refrigerant as defined in the Kigali Amendment.

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