Environmental lobby group, the EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency), has called for the parties to the Montreal Protocol to support a proposal to allow use of flammable refrigerants in room air conditioning. The new safety standard proposed by an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) working group, which will allow propane and other hydrocarbons to be used in room air conditioning, is vital to maximise the emission reductions from HFCs, the group says.
If approved by a vote of IEC member countries, the proposal is on course to be adopted in the international standard for air conditioning (IEC 60335-2-40), allowing greater use of climate-friendly and energy-efficient refrigerants in room air-conditioning systems around the world, adds the EIA.
Clare Perry, EIA UK Climate Campaign Leader, said: “The adoption of a revised safety standard to allow flammable refrigerants in room air conditioning is vital for meeting climate targets and implementing agreements to phase down HFCs, such as the Kigali Amendment under the Montreal Protocol.”
The revised standard would allow greater use of flammable refrigerants such as propane with GWPs close to zero, according to the EIA . Member countries represented on the IEC’s sub-committee 61D will have from now until 30 October to vote on the proposal.
Christina Starr, Senior Climate Policy Analyst with EIA US and also a member of the US standards technical panel for air-conditioners added: “Climate-friendly hydrocarbon refrigerants have been safely used in billions of household refrigerators around the world for decades, but have been largely blocked in air-conditioning by outdated standards. It is incredibly important for countries to support this proposal to unlock the full climate benefits of reducing HFCs and increasing energy efficiency in cooling.”
The number of room air-conditioners is set to triple to over 4.5 billion globally by 2050. A recent report commissioned for the EIA found that a shift away from HFCs in domestic split AC systems supported by updated product standards could avoid emissions of over two billion tonnes CO2e by 2030 and 5.6 billion tonnes CO2e by 2050.
Ms Starr added: “Many countries, particularly in the Global South that are A5 Parties to the Montreal Protocol, are in the process of phasing out ozone-depleting refrigerants, HFCs. An updated standard that allows safe use of climate-friendly refrigerants will enable early action by these countries to ‘leapfrog’ super-pollutant HFCs and transition directly to better substitutes for air conditioning.”
EIA urged Montreal Protocol stakeholders to take note of the current voting period for this proposal and to ensure support for its rapid advancement. Once adopted into the revised IEC 60553-2-40 standard for air conditioning, various regional and national standards bodies will need to adopt it to take full effect in some markets globally it said.