It was announced last week that the State of Washington would be joining four other states in having their own HFC phase down plan. The announcement came from the desk of Governor Jay Inslee. While it is still preliminary and needs to be approved by the State Congress the hopes are high that this will be the first step in reducing HFCs across the state. The proposed plan outlines over two-hundred and seventy million dollars aimed at reducing Climate Change across Washington. Out of this allotment the HFC phase down will receive just under one million dollars. The end goal here is having HFC usage across the state down to twenty-five percent below 1990 levels by the year 2035.
As I said above, Washington will now make the fifth state with a targeted HFC phase down plan. California, like in many cases, was the first state to introduce their HFC plan and then not too much after New York announced a similar plan. The very next week after New York announced Maryland and Connecticut announced their plans. (I wrote a story about this that can be found by clicking here).
As you can see, this is the beginning of a domino effect. With each state that moves forward with an HFC phase down plan there is more and more pressure applied to manufacturers and distributors throughout the country. It doesn’t matter if you are a car manufacturer based out of Louisiana. If you’re making cars you want those cars to be able to be sold throughout all fifty states. It wouldn’t make much sense to have cars specifically targeted to one set of states and then a different car targeted to another. It’s not good business sense. Manufacturers want uniformity.
This line of thinking by manufacturers is what will allow the United States to push forward with HFC phase downs even without the Kigali Amendment ratified or the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 in place. While we have seen quite a bit of turmoil at the Federal level we are still able to see results due to individual states pushing forward. In the case of this latest article on Washington we should also note that Washington was a founding member of what’s known as the ‘Climate Alliance.’ The Climate Alliance is a collection of sixteen states that have all agreed to work towards reducing their carbon footprint and to fighting Climate Change/Global Warming. This alliance is set to grown next year when newly elected Democratic governors from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois come to office.
This alliance is the first step in phasing down HFC’s across the country. It seems to be the only feasible strategy at this point. Everything else has failed and even if we only get twenty states on board, that should be enough. All we need is enough population and buying power on board with phasing down HFCs. The moment that happens is the moment we will begin to see manufacturers switching over to alternative refrigerants. The ones that do not make the switch will see their sales and margins drop. They may have to be dragged along kicking and screaming, but in the end we all know that money talks. If you can’t sell a R-404A system to your customer in California then you’re going to look for an alternative. It’s that simple.
The only downside here I can see by having states do this on their own is that the timeline will most likely be extended. As an example, let’s look at R-134a. In the case of 134a the EPA’s targeted phase down on new vehicles was set for 2020. (2021 model years.) That regulation date has since been removed due to court rulings.
The question now though is how close will we come to EPA’s original date? Will we be a few years past, or will it take a decade for enough states to get on board? Time will tell, but if the past few months have been any indicator then I would say we can expect many more states announcing their plans to phase down HFC refrigerants.