Speciality chemicals and gas company A-Gas South Africa has hailed the signing of the Kigali Amendment on 15 October 2016 as a “historic international agreement” for the phasedown of commonly-used, high GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerants.
Global delegates convened in the Rwandan capital of Kigali from 10 to 15 October for the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer aims to reduce both the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances. It was agreed upon on 16 September 1987, and entered into force on 1 January 1989.
A-Gas South Africa Commercial Director Chris Phillips points out that the company was established in 1993 to introduce ‘greener’ alternatives to the then widely-used CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). “Since then we have built on this original guiding principle, specialising in the supply of the latest environmentally-acceptable refrigerants, in addition to developing world-class refrigerant recovery and reclamation facilities.”
The Montreal Protocol’s ‘adjustment provision’ enables signatories to respond quickly to new scientific information to accelerate the reduction schedule. These reductions are then automatically applicable to signatory countries. Developing countries are afforded more time to comply with the phase-out schedule, in addition to having access to funding from the Multilateral Fund to facilitate compliance.
The Kigali meeting was aimed at negotiating a timetable to mandate countries to phase down the production and usage of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are man-made chemicals used mainly in air-conditioning, refrigeration and foam insulation. These powerful greenhouse gases can be thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change.
Following seven years of continuous consultations, parties to the Montreal Protocol struck a landmark, legally-binding deal to reduce the emissions of powerful greenhouse gases. This could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) notes that the Kigali Amendment could be the single largest real contribution the world has made so far towards keeping the global temperature rise ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed upon at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference last year. This amendment is a major step in realising that target.
According to the UNEP, the agreement includes specific targets and timetables to replace HFCs with more environment-friendly alternatives; provisions to prohibit or restrict countries that have ratified the protocol or its amendments from trading in controlled substances with states that are yet to ratify it; and an agreement by developed countries to help finance the transition of poor countries to alternative safer products. In particular, African countries opted to phase down the chemicals faster than required, citing the grave threats the region faces due to climate change.
The final agreement split the world’s major economies into three groups, each with a target phase-down date. The most developed countries, including the US and the European Union, will reduce the production and consumption of HFCs from 2019.
Most of the world, including China, Brazil, and all of Africa, will freeze the use of HFCs by 2024. A small group of the world’s hottest countries, such as Bahrain, India, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, only have to halt HFC production and use by 2028.
“As pressure mounts on governments worldwide for less talk and more action to address climate change, the Kigali Amendment is, indeed, a commendable move that adds momentum to a series of new global climate change agreements, including the Paris Agreement, which officially entered into force on 4 November,” the UNEP states on its website.
A notable presence at the signing of the Kigali Agreement was top officials from the chemicals industry, including producers and manufacturers of equipment that uses HFCs. This was a clear demonstration that the entire HFC supply chain supports decisive action to halt the production and use of these harmful substances globally.
“In all A-Gas regions, Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) are regulated under the Montreal Protocol, perceived as the most successful international treaty in history. Hence the inclusion of HFCs is an important addition,” Phillips highlights. As part of its commitment to both the Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Amendment, A-Gas is championing the blanket ban on disposable refrigerant cylinders in Africa, due to a lack of regulation and quality control.
A-Gas is a leader in the supply and lifecycle management of speciality chemicals. This includes: refrigerants, blowing agents, industrial gases, halon and fire protection agents used in industries operating in the HVAC, refrigeration, insulation, solvent, manufacturing and medical sectors. Delivering innovative and sustainable solutions for environmentally-sensitive gases and chemicals for more than 20 years, A-Gas offers a tailored ‘one-stop shop’ solution of products and services, helping its clients meet their regulatory obligations responsibly and sustainably.