South Asia and Southeast Asia Networks and Developed Countries Share Experiences about Integration of HFC Phase-down and HCFC Phase-out Processes

Date: 19 March 2021
South Asia and Southeast Asia Networks and Developed Countries Share Experiences about Integration of HFC Phase-down and HCFC Phase-out Processes

Under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, all developing countries in Asia-Pacific are effectively phasing out their consumption of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) according to their international commitments. In many cases, however, this success has resulted in an inevitable increase in the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are gases used as alternatives to HCFCs in applications ranging from air conditioners and fridges to plastic foam products. Those countries (which operate under Article 5 of the treaty) need to curb the growth of HFCs to ensure compliance with obligations under the Protocol's Kigali Amendment, which will be concurrent with their HCFC phase-out obligations for many years. Although some Article 5 countries have integrated HFC issues into their on-going HCFC phase-out activities, all of them need to identify strategies to enhance on-going activities and explore other opportunities for further integration.  

The countries of South Asia (SA) and Southeast Asian (SEA) Regional Network of Ozone Officers participated in a virtual meeting convened by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP), Asia and the Pacific Office on 23 February 2021 with a total of 86 participants from 23 countries (46 women and 40 men). The meeting offered opportunities for SA and SEA network countries to learn from the experience of developed countries – Australia, the European Union, Japan and the United States of America – and brainstormed on how on-going activities and potential strategies can integrate and extend to the upcoming HFC phase-down, taking into consideration the analysis on implications of parallel or integrated implementation of HCFC phase-out and HFC phase-down activities presented by the Multilateral Fund Secretariat. Break-out groups were held following the plenary session to facilitate discussions on pre-defined topics related to strategic perspective and transformative approaches for the integration of the HFC issue into HCFC phase-out effectively and sustainably while taking into account the current challenges faced by countries.   

The meeting enabled participants to better understand that the integration of HCFC phase-out and HFC phase-down implementation could be beneficial for their countries.  While countries have already initiated and implemented some activities to the extent possible, some challenges need to be addressed due to additional workloads associated with controlling multiple HFC substances, safety concerns and involvement with new stakeholders attributed to the HFC phase-down.  There could be other opportunities for further integration of HFC phase-down following consultation and engagement of other national stakeholders.

Ms. Zuhasni of Indonesia's National Ozone Unit said that “To benefit the HFC control, Indonesia has conducted some activities with consideration of both HCFCs and HFCs.  For example, we have integrated safety aspects of flammable/toxic/high pressure refrigerants in the upper level of competency standards for refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC)  servicing technicians as part of the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan activities. Today, we have learned initiatives from presentations and discussions in the meeting such as control of leakage in large RAC equipment through record keeping and the report of the amount of refrigerant used and leaked. Each developed country has common but a different approach to control the HFCs, which can be useful for developing countries”

Mr. Jim Curlin, Acting Head of UNEP OzonAction, said “We are entering a new era of parallel HCFC phaseout and HFC phase-down obligations under the Montreal Protocol. The experience of developed countries with the management of the HFC phase-down, including lessons learnt about the development and coordination of national strategies and policies to control HFCs, is extremely useful for developing countries as they set out on the same path. UNEP will continue to offer its Regional Networks as a platform for sharing and discussing this type of critical information to help developing countries prepare for their future Kigali Amendment obligations.”

This thematic meeting is the first of a series of thematic workshops that UNEP CAP plans to conduct in the region following a survey of Network members conducted in November 2020 and in light of its approved 2021 Work Plan.

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