HFC phase-down in the USA, in China and in Europe
Prospects for the ratification of the Kigali Amendment by China and the US, and new bans on HFCs under the F-Gas Regulation in Europe
In January 2021, US President Joe Biden confirmed the US commitment to ratify the Kigali Amendment.
The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is an international agreement to reduce the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) according to different timetables .
In December, Donald Trump had signed a bipartisan law, the Consolidated Appropriation Act, which included an agreement, the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, allowing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement a phase-down of HFC consumption and production to 15% of their average annual level between 2011 and 2013 by 2036.
The EPA released a bill in early May 2021 to reduce HFC production and importsby 85% over the next 15 years. To do so, quotas would be granted to companies producing or importing HFCs. These would be valid for one calendar year.
The draft text is available via this link. Frequently asked questions have also been posted online by the EPA.
A few weeks earlier, in mid-April, two days of talks took place between the United States and China. The United States had mandated its presidential special envoy for climate, John Kerry. China had delegated Xie Zhenhua. At the end of these two days, a joint statement made by the two special envoys affirmed the wish of these two great powers to ratify the Kigali Amendment.
The day after these talks, Chinese President Xi Jinping confirmed the decision in a discussion with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
This new announcement by China could be the beginning of a major trade transition in the field of refrigeration. The climate issue is becoming, more than ever, a key challenge to remain competitive in the global refrigeration market. China produces 70% of the domestic air conditioners sold in the world. According to Hu Jianxin, a professor at the Beijing College of Environmental Sciences, China accounts for 20% of total HFC emissions, which is almost equivalent to the emissions of the EU and the United States combined. China also produces 60% of the HFCs used in the world. China's ratification of the Kigali Amendment will therefore represent a major challenge for the global climate.
In Europe, a ban on refrigerants with a GWP of 750 or more in new stationary air conditioning and heat pump equipment is being considered under the revision of the F-Gas regulations, which should enter into force in 2022. This would question the use of R410A: the only alternative option available for VRF (variable refrigerant flow) equipment would be the flammable refrigerant R32. This ban was mentioned in a briefing paper published in early May. This also includes a ban on HFCs with a GWP of 150 or more in stationary air-conditioning equipment and in heat pumps below 12 kW. For this equipment, the alternative considered will surely be propane (R290).
 Read the documents on the Kigali Amendment in FRIDOC.