01 November 2018

South Africa to Adopt the Kigali Agreement

THE future of high Global Warming Potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and the alternatives was the subject of a presentation delivered by A-Gas South Africa Sales Manager Michael Labacher at the HFC Phase-Out Management Plan (HPMP) Roadshow, hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.

Given that South Africa is in the process of ratifying the Kigali Amendment pertaining to the HFC phase-down, it is necessary that all roleplayers are updated in this regard, which was the main aim of the HPMP Roadshow. This details the programme for the phasing out of HFCs in the foam, refrigeration, and air-conditioning sectors specifically. HFCs are a group of man-made chemicals containing hydrogen, fluorine and carbon. These types of refrigerant gases have significant global warming potential. Successful elimination of these HFCs will provide a significant boost to South Africa’s environmental efforts to mitigate climate-change impacts.

South Africa is a Party to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances responsible for ozone depletion. It aims to reduce the consumption of ozone-depleting substances in order to reduce their negative impact on the ozone layer. Even though South Africa has met a target to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 20% in the last financial year, the DEA notes that more still needs to be done. Currently there is no law that prohibits, nor restricts, the quantity of HFCs imported into, or exported out of, South Africa. However, general imports and exports of HFCs are controlled through the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) Import and Export Regulations of 2012. To obtain such a permit from ITAC, one requires a recommendation issued by the DEA.

The HPMP Roadshow provided the ideal platform to highlight the latest developments in this regard, especially in respect of the current status of the commonly-used R404A and R507. It is believed that the DEA will imminently confirm that these HFCs, which have a high Global Warming Potential (GWP), will be phased down in a programme similar to that adopted in the European Union to target refrigerants with a GWP higher than 2500.

The HPMP Roadshow provided an ideal opportunity for the government to communicate the milestones that have been achieved to date and the strides undertaken towards the implementation of both the Montreal Protocol and the status of the DEA’s HPMP in South Africa. It also gave major industry stakeholders such as A-Gas South Africa a platform to highlight their own contribution to these national goals.