Monday, August 15, 2011

Some Replacements for CFC-Containing Refrigerants Much More Potent GHGs than CO2

While international climate talks remain deadlocked, the Montreal Protocol has been methodically eliminating some of the worst chemicals contributing to global warming.
International ozone negotiators meeting in Montreal last week approved country plans to phase out ozone depleting substances (ODS) that are also super greenhouse gases (GHGs) that harm the global climate. By 2015, the reductions approved last week will prevent more than 62 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) emissions.
From 25-29 July, negotiators at the Multilateral Fund, the financial body established to assist developing countries to meet their commitments under the Montreal Protocol, assessed ODS phase-out plans submitted by dozens of countries including China, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.
Countries converting from ODS traditionally have chosen to convert to high-GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chemicals that do not harm the ozone layer but that are super-greenhouse gasses with global warming potentials (GWPs) hundreds to thousand of times greater than CO2. Developed countries that have already phased out ODS have switched to high-GWP alternatives in about 75 percent of instances. However at last week's meeting, many phase-out plans that proposed to convert to HFC-410A and other high-GWP alternatives were either revised or rejected.
"The rejection of phase-out plans that proposed the use high-GWP alternatives signals that the Montreal Protocol is committed to protecting climate," said Mark W. Roberts, international policy adviser to the EIA, who attended the meeting. He added, "The world is finally recognizing that there's simply no reason to fund transitions to super greenhouse gases when environmentally responsible alternatives are available."
While the majority of conversions were from HCFCs to low-GWP alternatives, several plans were approved that will "phase-in" high-GWP HFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning, primarily as a result of funding constraints that are limiting complete adoption of climate-friendly alternatives. HFC-410A, which is 1,890 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2, was approved for use in air conditioning in China, Mexico and Lebanon. These conversions will negate millions of tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions reductions and lock these countries into climate-damaging technologies for decades.
"The decisions being made are a signal to all countries that HFCs are a dead-end technology and that enormous climate benefits are available through the Montreal Protocol's HCFC phase-out,” said Clare Perry, senior campaigner at EIA. "An even greater climate payoff could be achieved by slightly increasing the Multilateral Fund's budget so that HFCs are not unnecessarily phased in," she said.
A second meeting of the Montreal Protocol's began yesterday to discuss wider issues including the next tranche of funding available for the HCFC phase-out, as well as proposals to begin a phase-out of HFCs.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

China receives $265-million grant to reduce HCFC use

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Multilateral Fund, a financial body established to aid developing countries meet their Montreal Protocol commitments, has given China a $265-million grant, to reduce the country’s use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons which contributes to ozone layer degradation.

China, the largest producer and consumer of the gas, uses HCFC mainly for air-conditioning refrigerant as well as industrial and commercial refrigeration, foam blowing agents, and as solvents. The country will be using the grant approved by the executive committee to support its commitment on achieving a green economy.

This step also represents the first stage of China’s HCFC phase out management plan, which when implemented, will not only eliminate 3,320 tons of HCFC consumption in the country, but will also help the country adopt new technologies that will be used to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Under the country’s plan to reduce the use of the gas, they intend to strengthen policy implementation to restrict the growth of HCFC production capacity, and establish the production capacity of alternatives through a series of projects. In addition, the government will also focus on reducing the leakage of refrigerants.

Following the plan and with the aid of the grant, China could see an overall reduction of about 17 percent of the country’s total amount of controlled HCFC use. In line with their efforts, United Nations Development Program, U.N. Environment Program, U.N. Industrial Development Organization, the World Bank, and the governments of Germany and Japan will be aiding China.

In 2009, China was responsible for over 58 percent of HCFC consumption in developing countries; this was due to the rapidly growing economy. Industries in the country are faced with the fact that they should convert hundreds of their assembly lines in order to stop the consumption of HCFC by 2013 and reduce its consumption from this level by 10 percent by 2015.

“The approval of China’s HCFC phase out management plan represents an extraordinary achievement by the Multilateral Fund and its stakeholders to reduce HCFC consumption,” said Maria Nolan, chief officer of the Multilateral Fund.

The fund was established in 1991 and has since approved activities including industrial conversion, technical assistance, training and capacity building worth over $2.6 billion. As of April 2011, contributions made by some 45 countries totaled over $2.77 billion.
Its main objective is to assist developing country parties to the Montreal Protocol whose annual per capita consumption and production of ozone depleting substances is less than 0.3 kilograms to comply with the control measures of the protocol.

Currently, 147 of the 196 parties to the Montreal Protocol meet these criteria.
In line with the Montreal Protocol’s phase out of ozone depleting substances starting the last week of July, the U.N. had started giving aid to countries in their transition to a low-carbon economy. It is estimated that by 2015, combined member countries’ plans to reduce ozone depleting substances will prevent more than 62 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. (L. J. Polintan)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Miami Man Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Smuggling Refrigerant
–Today, U.S. District Court Judge Adalberto Jordan sentenced Brendan Clery, 34, to 18 months in prison and ordered him to pay a $10,000 criminal fine and forfeit illegal proceeds in the amount of $935,240. Clery pleaded guilty in April 2011 to knowingly importing approximately 278,256 kilograms of illegal hydrochlorofluorocarbon - 22 (HCFC-22, also known as R-22) into the United States. HCFC-22 is an ozone-depleting substance regulated by EPA under the Clean Air Act (CAA). HCFC-22 depletes the ozone layer, resulting in increased ultraviolet radiation-B (UV-B) reaching the Earth’s surface, which in turn leads to a greater chance of overexposure to UV radiation and the risks of health effects, such as skin cancer, cataracts, and suppression of the immune system.

"EPA takes seriously the smuggling of illegal substances that can harm the ozone layer, which protects us from harmful UVB radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s sentencing is an example of EPA’s commitment to aggressively enforce U.S. laws and meet our international obligations."

According to court records and statements, in 2005, Clery formed and served as president of Lateral Investments LLC, a corporation he established in Florida for the purpose of importing merchandise, including refrigerant gas he intended to sell illegally. Between June and August 2007, Clery illegally smuggled approximately 278,256 kilograms or 20,460 cylinders of restricted HCFC-­22 from China, with a market value of $1,438,270, and at no time did Clery or Lateral Investments hold the consumption allowances required to legally import HCFC-22.

EPA established a schedule to phase out the production and importation of ozone-depleting substances, with a complete phaseout starting in 2030. To meet its obligations under the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer, EPA issued baseline consumption allowances for the production and importation of HCFC-22 to individuals and companies. To legally import HCFC-22 for consumption, one must hold and expend one consumption allowance for each kilogram of HCFC-22 imported into the United States.

This case was part of a larger criminal investigation known as Operation Catch-22. It was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Criminal Investigation Bureau, and prosecuted by special assistant U. S. Attorney Jodi A. Mazer.

More information on EPA’s criminal enforcement program: