In May of 2014 Mexico, Canada, and North America submitted an amendment request on the Montreal Protocol. The amendment suggested the phase down and eventual phase out of HFC refrigerants for all nations that had signed the Montreal Protocol.
The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty that went into effect in January 1st, 1989. The main goal of the protocol is to slow down and to eventually stop the damage to the O-Zone layer that various chemicals were causing. It has been revised numbers times over the years to accommodate for new technologies and products.
This latest amendment was formally submitted in May of 2014 and it was to be reviewed in November of 2014 by all parties of the Montreal Protocol. In the November meetings countries were not able to discuss formally mainly due to the resistance of the Arabian states and Pakistan.
So, as of now nothing has been decided. But, the momentum is in the phase out corner. Think about this, all of North America is on board and most of the European Union is as well. It’s not a matter of if the amendment will be added but when. Some countries will be dragged kicking and screaming but it will eventually be phased out.
I can’t help but laugh after hearing about the latest phase out of R-134a in Europe and now the pushing of all HFCs in North America. (Including R-410A, R-404A, and R-134a.) The whole reason the world is using HFCs today is because of the enactment of the Montreal Protocol in the first place!
Back in 1989 HCFCs were the bad guys. (R-12/R-22) Both of these chemicals contained chlorine. Chlorine causes damage to the O-Zone layer. So, if you were working an air conditioning unit that used HFCs and a leak occurred you would be causing damage to the O-Zone layer. There were so much HCFCs being released into the atmosphere that a hole had started to form in the O-Zone. This concerned a lot of scientists and leaders across the world and thus the Montreal Protocol was born.
The problem that we run into phasing out products like this is that they have to be replaced with something. Humanity isn’t going to go without air conditioning again… not that we know it exists! I know I certainly wouldn’t. So, when HCFCs were phased out we replaced them all with non chlorine containing HFCs.
Come to find out HFCs damaged the environment as well, just not the same as HCFCs. It was found that all of these new HFCs such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A do not harm the O-Zone layer but they do have an extremely high Global Warming Potential. For example, R-134a is 1430 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. Kind of came back to bite us…
The European Union has already taken the first steps through it’s countries. All cars made in 2013 or later in the European Union cannot contain an R-134a system or refrigerant. It was also announced in America that major manufacturers and consumers of HFCs would voluntarily cut their usage/production over the next few years. HFC’s days are numbered in this world, the question is what will take their place?