||Frequently Asked Questions
What are HCFCs?
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are widely used in the refrigeration, foam, solvent, aerosol and fire fighting sectors as a transitional substance to substitute chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). HCFCs are also used as feedstock (raw material) in the production for other chemical products. HCFCs were adopted as transitional substitute chemicals to replace CFCs as they were phased out under the Montreal Protocol. Approximately 75% of global HCFC use is in air-conditioning and refrigeration sectors and the main chemical used is HCFC-22.
What are the main concerns about HCFCs?
The potential to contribute to ozone layer depletion and climate change, if released to the atmosphere. Although HCFCs have considerably lower ozone depleting potentials than CFCs, they are still damaging to the ozone layer and therefore controlled under the Montreal Protocol. HCFCs also have high global warming potentials, of up to 2000 times that of carbon dioxide.
Is HCFC production increasing?
As of 2007, production of HCFCs is dramatically increasing, particularly in China and India. HCFC production by developing countries in 1989 was less than 11370 ODP tonnes, but by 2006 this had increased to more than 26,940 ODP tonnes. Of the production in 2006, China was responsible for just over 90 percent of this HCFC production. In developed countries HCFC production has fallen from more than 13,140 ODP tonnes to around 7000 ODP tonnes over the same period. Despite the reduction in developed countries, the total HCFC global production has more than doubled over this period, with total HCFC production standing at more than 34,400 ODP tonnes in 2006. It is expected that this dramatic rate of growth will increase and it is estimated that in 2015 HCFC and HFC (hydrofluorocarbons) emissions will be in the region of two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. [Note: When considered in terms of metric tonnes (not ODS tonnes – adjusted to reflect the potential to deplete ozone) this represents a considerably larger quantity. For example 1 ODS tonne of HCFC-22 has a mass in metric tonnes of approximately 18.2 tonnes].
What have the Parties to the Montreal Protocol said about HCFCs?
The 1995 Vienna Declaration stated that: "Further significant reductions in the emissions of HCFCs would have a beneficial effect on the ozone layer". The declaration also noted that HCFCs were not necessary for the substitution of CFCs since: "…more environmentally sound alternative substances and technologies are commercially available for almost any applications".
Many Parties to the Montreal Protocol have expressed concerns over the continued use and approval of HCFCs as replacements for CFCs, as evidenced in several decisions of the Parties about HCFCs. This culminated in the agreement for an adjustment to the HCFC phase-out schedule taken at the 19th Meeting in September 2007: Decision XIX/6: "Adjustments to the Montreal Protocol with regard to Annex C, Group I, substances".
Have world leaders recognised the importance of phasing out HCFCs?
In June 2007 the G8 Summit Declaration stated that: "We will also endeavour under the Montreal Protocol to ensure the recovery of the ozone layer by accelerating the phase-out of HCFCs in a way that supports energy efficiency and climate change objectives. In working together toward our shared goal of speeding ozone recovery, we recognize that the Clean Development Mechanism impacts emissions of ozone-depleting substances"
Source: G8 Heiligendamm statement, 7 June 2007
Are increased HCFC emissions delaying the recovery of the ozone layer?
The World Metrological Organization/United State Environment Programme (WMO/UNEP) 2006 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion concludes that recovery of the ozone layer will take longer than expected, well into the second half of this century, largely because of: "an increase in HCFC-22 emissions due to larger estimated future production." The Antarctic ozone hole is not expected to be eliminated until around 2065.
What are the benefits to accelerating the phase out of HCFCs?
The accelerated phase out of HCFCs presents an historic opportunity to not only to significantly reduce the levels of ozone depleting substances in the atmosphere, but also to have a significant impact in the climate. "The climate protection already achieved by the Montreal Protocol alone is far larger than the reduction target of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Additional climate benefits that are significant compared with the Kyoto Protocol reduction target could be achieved by actions under the Montreal Protocol, by managing the emissions of substitute fluorocarbon gases [HCFCs] and/or implementing alternative gases with lower global warming potentials."
Source: Guus J.M. Velders et al., 2007
What is the major challenge for developing countries with regard to HCFCs?
Alternative technologies are commercially available for most applications that currently use HCFCs, but many countries were not aware of the HCFC phase out schedule and the recent accelerated timetable. The major challenge for developing countries will be how to access the cost-effective and environment-friendly substitutes.
What is the current policy of the Multilateral Fund towards HCFC projects?
A number of Executive Committee Decisions have stated that, whenever possible, HCFCs should not be used and that implementing agencies should note a presumption against HCFCs when preparing projects. HCFCs should only be recommended in projects where more environment-friendly and viable alternative technologies are not available. Currently the Multilateral Fund guidelines prevent funding of any ODS facility which has already received Multilateral Fund assistance to convert to HCFCs (or was created since 1995) to transition out of HCFCs.
What directions has the 19th Meeting of the Parties given the Executive Committee about HCFCs?
The agreement to accelerate the HCFC phase-out schedule for developing countries states that Parties: "Agree that the funding available through the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol in the upcoming replenishments shall be stable and sufficient to meet all agreed incremental costs to enable Article 5 Parties to comply with the accelerated phase-out schedule both for production and consumption sectors as set out above, and based on that understanding, to also direct the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund to make the necessary changes to the eligibility criteria related to the post-1995 facilities and second conversions".
The text of the Adjustment directs the Executive Committee to:
- "in providing technical and financial assistance, to pay particular attention to Article 5 Parties with low volume and very low volume consumption of HCFCs";
- "assist Parties in preparing their phase-out management plans for an accelerated HCFC phase-out";
- "as a matter of priority, to assist Article 5 Parties in conducting surveys to improve reliability in establishing their baseline data on HCFCs".
The Adjustment also includes an agreement that the Executive Committee, will when developing and applying funding criteria for projects and programmes, focus on:
- " Phasing-out first those HCFCs with higher ozone-depleting potential"
- " Substitutes and alternatives that minimize other impacts on the environment, including on the climate, taking into account global-warming potential, energy use and other relevant factors"
Source: Meeting of the Parties Decision XIX/6: "Adjustments to the Montreal Protocol with regard to Annex C, Group I, substances"
What actions have been taken by the European Union and United States to phase out HCFCs?
From January 2010, the use of virgin HCFCs is prohibited in maintenance and servicing of refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment in EU countries. Therefore, the consumption of HCFCs in EU countries will be zero from 2010. The EU has also prohibited HCFC use in aerosols and solvents (except for some limited specific applications). The US EPA will ban production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b except for on-going servicing needs in equipment manufactured before January 1, 2010. As of January 1, 2003, USEPA banned production and import of HCFC-141b. On March 19, 2007, the USEPA finalised a rule determining that HCFC-22 is unacceptable to use as a foam blowing agent.
Where can my company obtain advice or assistance about the phase out of HCFCs?
Your country’s national association for the refrigeration and air conditioning industry is the best place to start. Most have practical information materials about alternative refrigerants, contacts for suppliers of non-HCFC technology, training programmes for refrigeration servicing technicians and other resources available to assist with the transition to more environmentally-friendly refrigerants. Individual suppliers of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment and fluids are also excellent sources of technical information, and could be your next point of contact, however care must be taken to evaluate different options from several suppliers, not just the option presented by one supplier.
Another source of information is your Government’s Montreal Protocol focal point. Each country has a focal point for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol who can guide you about national policies/regulations towards HCFCs, and often also information about technologies and financing. Developing countries (Article 5) | Developed countries (non-Article 5)
UNEP’s Compliance Assistance Programme can also help. We have officers who assist developing countries in different regions with the management and phase out of ozone depleting refrigerants, including HCFCs, and they may be able to provide additional information about the phase out of HCFC from a regional perspective. Africa | Asia and the Pacific | Europe and Central Asia | Latin America and the Caribbean | West Asia
The other Implementing Agencies of the Multilateral Fund likewise have projects and activities in developing countries to assist with the phase out of ozone depleting substances and could also provide useful information. UNDP | UNIDO | World Bank