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Whitehall backs global HFC clampdown with Kigali amendment ratification

The UK claims to be one of the first nations to adopt expanded global target to curb greenhouse gas usage for cooling that falls in line with ongoing EU F-Gas commitments

The government has ratified the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol that seeks to curb use of HFCs for purposes such as cooling.  This builds on existing work to reduce ozone depleting substances in the atmosphere.

By signing the amendment that was devised last year, the UK is claiming to be one of the first nations to ratify the commitments to reduce global HFC use by 85 per cent between 2019 and 2036.

“Consequently this deal is likely to avoid close to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century, making it the most significant step yet in achieving the Paris climate agreement goal of keeping temperatures well below two degrees,” said the government in a statement on ratifying the amendment.

An estimated 44 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are expected to be reduced from the UK’s overall emissions as a result of the country meeting its ambitions under the Kigali Amendment, the Department for Environment, food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said.

 Environment secretary Michael Gove said that the UK was already in the process of cutting reliance on HFCs by 79 per cent as part of a 15-year strategy outlined in the EU’s F-Gas regulations. The legislation came into effect in 2015 to curb use of a number of fluorinated greenhouse gases across the bloc.

Mr Gove said the ratification represented a firm UK commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“Adopting this ambitious target marks the UK as a world leader in tackling climate change,” said Mr Gove. “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 Montreal Protocol was finalised in 1987 as a global commitment to phase out use of ozone depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons. The government said that 98 per cent of these gases had been phased out since, leading to early signs of recovery.

The amendment approved in Kigali to expand this focus to HFC use will initially involve developed nations.  Developing countries will become party to the commitments from 2024.

Although the UK already committed to EU targets on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, clarifying the status of future quotas to reduce F-Gas use post-brexit has been identified as a pressing issue for the UK cooling industry.

“Less onerous” than EU commitments

A senior source within the air conditioning industry currently working around legislative compliance argued that the Kigali agreement was considered “less onerous” than commitments outlined in the EU F-Gas regulations.

The amendment was therefore expected to have little immediate impact on cooling system suppliers based in the UK or wider EU.

“That being said, it will mean that lower GWP gasses will be adopted globally which will help manufactures change their systems to use refrigerants such as R32 with the benefit of being able to sell them to a wider market,” said the source.

The Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA) meanwhile welcomed the government’s ratification of the Kigali amendment.

“We will continue to urge that the UK remains in step with Europe regarding climate change issues, even once we have formally left the EU. On every level these are global issues and need to be tackled collectively,” said the organisation in a statement.

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