Australian refrigeration industry urges government to get tougher on HFCs21 January 2016
The need to help curb climate change by phasing down production and consumption of HFCs, powerful greenhouse gases, and deliver energy efficiency in HVACR is being recognised by governments worldwide.
With air conditioning and refrigeration units the leading source of energy use and emissions in the built environment, the shift to an energy efficient, low emissions industry is becoming critical.
The Australian Refrigeration Association (ARA) and over 80 signatories have called on the Australian government to use F-Gas style legislation to bring HFC emissions under control.
The ARA is recommending a more ambitious strategy for HFC phase-down than its policymakers have proposed, including F-Gas style record keeping and leakage detection requirements.
According to the ARA, if HFCs are not phased down rapidly, the world has a small chance of achieving the required degree of global warming control. The ARA thinks more consideration should be given to the European Union legislation addressing HFC phase-down, which they believe is far more concrete and specific.
Aligning the country with a global phase-down would bring technology benefits, as Australia’s cooling industry already has natural refrigeration technology necessary to replace HFCs.
The ARA believes that since low global warming potential (GWP) technologies are already available in every sector, a relatively short notice period of a few years is sufficient to enable the industry to transition: by sourcing the required technology and preparing their supply chain for its availability.
The ARA has pushed for mandatory reporting of refrigerant use, noting that contractors already collect this data for invoicing purposes. The result will be faster leakage reporting, faster and more focused maintenance, increased energy efficiency and reduced refrigerant emissions.
As part of its strategy it suggests an upgrading of industry standards in order to enable the industry to deliver both safe practices and enable transition to low GWP technology. The ARA would enable the introduction of a penalty or licence retention scheme that would further discourage intentional or unnecessary releases of environmentally harmful substances.
The ARA says that the cost of implementing such measures should not be seen merely as a cost to the industry, but as a saving of emissions costs. It proposes a levy on refrigerants at the point of sale, based on emission, with natural refrigerants exempt and all collection costs to be carried by the refrigerant distributors.
The organisation understands this all needs to be underpinned by proper regulatory enforcement and improved training; by the government embedding it in its procurement strategies; by better benchmarking of HVACR installations with regard to emissions; and by improved end of life management.
In its submission, the ARA has said the HVACR industry, including suppliers, licensees, specifiers, consultants and 23 million end users who enjoy the benefits of HVACR are all informed about its energy efficiency and environmental impact.
The opportunities are plentiful for HVACR stakeholders should these proposed changes be made. Among the many benefits is more work for HVACR suppliers, cost savings for end users and national competitive advantage if Australia leads the transition.