Regulations relating to environmental issues include refrigerant regulations and energy-saving regulations as well as environmental regulations such as hazardous substances regulations. And if history is any indication, regulations and policies that are first adopted by the remarkably environment-conscious European Union (EU) are either completely or at least partially incorporated by other regions. For example, refrigerant regulations introduced in stages by the EU targeting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have subsequently been embraced throughout the globe.
Trends of Worldwide Efforts
The Montreal Protocol specified CFC refrigerants, such as Rll and R12, as substances possessing exceedingly high ozone depletion potential (ODP). Consequently, these refrigerants became the first target for regulation and were fully abolished, even in developing countries, by 2010. Later, HCFC refrigerants, such as R22 and R123, were shown to have a negative impact on the ozone layer and became the next target for regulation. The phase-out deadline for HCFC refrigerants is scheduled for 2020 in developed countries and 2030 in developing countries. Currently, various countries are promoting replacement of HCFC refrigerants with HFC refrigerants including R410A and Rl34a, since these refrigerants have zero ODP.
However, in 1994, the Kyoto Protocol recognized the extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP) of HFC refrigerants as an issue. Consequently, shifting from HFCs to low-GWP refrigerant alternatives has become a pressing need toward achieving a reduction in greenhouse gases. The 28th Meeting of the Parties (MOP 28) to the Montreal Protocol held at Kigali , Rwanda, on October 15, adopted the Kigali Amendment. This amendment regards HFC refrigerants as reduction target substances and established phase-out targets for both developing and developed countries.
Trends in Developed Countries
Buoyed by the green activism of environmental groups, the EU consistently precedes other global regions in the implementation of refrigerant regulations and phased out HCFCs well ahead of the Montreal Protocol deadline (2020) for developed countries. Surrounding countries soon followed its lead. In Turkey and the Eurasian Customs Union, which includes Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, the market ratio of R 22 air conditioners has already fallen to zero.
In the EU, there was a movement more than ten years ago to replace the HFC refrigerants with natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide (CO2), and water. In October 2005, the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment passed a far-reaching proposal to fully abolish fluorinated gases (Fgases), including HFC refrigerants, but the European Parliament rejected it. Ultimately, the more modest F-gas Regulation took effect and required periodic leak inspection of HFC refrigerants from July 2007 in accordance with the European Council’s proposal.
Compared with the EU and Japan, action toward enacting HCFC regulations came especially late in the United States and Canada where import and production of air conditioners using HCFC refrigerants were prohibited from January 2010 and followed by the prohibition of sales from January 2015. Furthermore, while the market ratio of R22 RACs is zero, the ratio of R22 packaged air conditioners (PACs) will likely continue to account for about 10%.
Advanced Regions of HCFC Regulations
The market ratio of R22 air conditioners in the regions of East Asia and Oceania that include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand is zero. In Japan , the air conditioning industry quickly shifted from HCFCs to HFCs according to regulations such as the Ozone Layer Protection Law, which began enforcement in 1988. At first, R410A refrigerant was allocated for RACs and R407C for PACs. However, each manufacturer shortly adopted R410A for both RACs and PACs since R410A had a competitive advantage in coefficient of performance (COP) during heating operation.
Read more in JARN, December 25, 2016