In contradiction to the HCFC phase-out goal of the Montreal Protocol, the current Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) methodology (AM0001) is accused of providing producers of HFC-23 with incentives to artificially inflate production in order for them to gain valuable certified emissions reduction (CER) credits. This paradoxical UN climate policy risks wiping out the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol, and may be hampering future investment in natural refrigerant technologies.
CDM misses natural refrigerant opportunities
In addition to the problematic around HCFC 22 / HFC 23, the CDM is in general struggling to deliver emission reductions from refrigeration projects. Currently, the CDM has four refrigeration linked methodologies, two of which relate to hydrocarbons.
- AM0070 and AM0071 for the manufacture of higher efficiency refrigerators and the switch to isobutane
- AMS III.AB for icecream cabinets of 0.2 kg < 134 < 6 kg, and a switch to propane
However, these methodologies have yielded very few CDM supported hydrocarbon technology projects. This problem was also addressed at last year’s international workshop on natural refrigerants “ATMOsphere” held in Brussels where Member of the European Parliament Theodoros Skylakakis pointed to the missed opportunities to support truly innovative projects that would yield environmental benefits.
Lessons from Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund
In contrast to the CDM, the Montreal Protocol Multimateral Fund (MLF) has a long history of successful technology transfer, and over the years has financed some exemplary HCFC replacement projects, including hydrocarbon refrigeration schemes.
For example, in China the MLF enabled the Zhejiang Huari group to pioneer the substitution of foam blowing agent CFC-12 with cyclopentane, and made it possible for Jiaxipera to develop an environmentally friendly hydrocarbon compressor.
In Jamaica, the MLF helped finance the courtry’s refrigerant management plan (RMP), where measures relating to the safe use of hydrocarbon refrigerants were introduced. As a result, Jamaica developed expertise with hydrocarbon refrigerants, which is now being shared with the other English speaking Caribbean countries.
Future support from the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund
In April 2011, the Excecutive Commitee of the Multilateral Fund for Implementation of the Montreal Protocol approved funding for HCFC phase-out in 39 countires. All 39 countries have pledged at a minimum to meet the first two Montreal Protocol control measures for HCFCs, namely the freeze in HCFC consumption by 2013 and the 10% reduction by 2015. This funding will encourgae a faster transition to low global warming alternatives, such as hydrocarbons.
HFC-23 is an unwanted byproduct of HCFC-22 production and is 11,700 times more potent than CO2. The CDM currently offers carbon credits for the destruction of HFC-23 gases to prevent their release into the atmosphere. However it is relatively cheap to destroy HFC-23, and the carbon credits that companies receive in return for destroying the HFC-23 can sell for up to 70 times what it costs to destroy the gas, providing a strong incentive to increase HCFC 22 production.
Currently, the CDM program to capture and destroy HFC-23 costs almost 1 EURO billion, and over half the CERs issued for projects have been issued to HFC-23 abatement projects in developing countries.
The next global UN climate meeting will be held in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December 2011.
Since its inception in 1991, the Multilateral Fund has approved over 5,500 projects and activities in over 140 countries, which have assisted countries in compliying with the Montreal Protocol control measures.