New Zealand to phase down use of HFCs from 2020

New Zealand will begin phasing down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from 2020 as part of an international effort expected to avoid 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming.

Environment Minister David Parker and Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the Government would put in place a permitting system to set annual limits on imports of bulk HFCs, which are potent greenhouse gases mainly used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

“The annual limits will reduce gradually over a 17-year period beginning in 2020. It will allow New Zealand to phase down our use of HFCs by more than 80 per cent by 2037,” David Parker said.

James Shaw said the change is in line with our obligations under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

“The Amendment is expected to avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century. This is a significant contribution towards the Paris Agreement’s objectives to keep the global temperature rise ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius, and will provide ongoing ozone protection,” he said.

“Ratifying and implementing the Kigali Amendment supports New Zealand’s transition to a sustainable and climate-resilient future. It also demonstrates our commitment to global environmental and climate objectives, and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Kigali Amendment will enter into force 90 days after New Zealand ratifies it. Entry into force must occur at the beginning of a calendar year to align with the Montreal Protocol’s reporting requirements.

The permitting system is the last step in the process towards ratification of the Kigali Amendment.

“All the necessary domestic measures are completed and New Zealand will ratify the Kigali Amendment on 3 October 2019 so it enters into force on 1 January 2020,” David Parker said.

The global HFC phase-down means the air-conditioning and refrigeration industries will need to move to alternative refrigerants. Although common alternatives to HFCs are more environmentally-friendly, they can be flammable or toxic and require careful management.

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“The Government wants to ensure that health and safety risks from alternative refrigerants are properly managed and that there is better enforcement of current rules. We will be working with industry to ensure they are used safely.

“Any necessary changes to regulations are expected to be in place before the Kigali Amendment enters into force,” David Parker said.

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