Obsolete safety standards have been a barrier to market uptake of climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs in the cooling sector."
The workshop was divided into four sessions: an overview of the international safety standards of greatest importance to the Montreal Protocol and its Kigali Amendment, and the process for developing and revising the standards; identifying limitations to the uptake of lower-GWP alternatives that could be addressed with changes to existing international safety standards; the relationship between international and national safety standards; and how stakeholders can work together to maximize the opportunities for the safe use of lower-GWP alternatives. Discussions revolved around unpacking the challenges associated with modernizing and harmonizing the standards that apply to this sector across geographies, while getting broader stakeholder participation and ensuring human safety is not compromised. Broader participation by experts in developing (A5) countries could lead to more timely progress on key technical issues affecting refrigerant choices in priority sectors, and to increased focus on the most cost-effective and efficient technologies. For instance, A2L (so-called mildly flammable) refrigerants have received increased attention and focus in recent years as it is in the interest of multiple U.S., European and Japanese companies to open up the market to R32, HFOs and a number of new HFC blends that are A2Ls. But greater participation,
including from developing countries, may help address the full range of alternatives, including A3 refrigerants. Expanded participation in working groups focused on standards will also contribute to greater regional knowledge of the technical aspects of proposed changes, allowing for more rapid adoption of changes to international standards at the national level. Continued political attention is thus critical for progress in this arena.
Integrating energy efficiency Energy efficiency was a key discussion point at the Bangkok meeting. Two separate Conference Room Papers (CRPs) were presented – one from India and other Group 2 (high-ambient developing) countries, as well as one from the African Group; the latter asked for additional work on how refrigerant transition would be accompanied by concurrent energy-efficiency gains. These proposals received near-universal support from all developing countries. Donor countries showed openness to discussing the scope of energy efficiency, and there was consensus around having a focused workshop to further flesh out an appropriate strategy. However, the challenge of incorporating energy efficiency compounds the complexities around how to best direct finite funds. There is a concern that transitional alternatives like HFC-32 or HFC/HFO blends, which are yet to be used in a widespread manner, are being pitched as “energy efficient alternatives” but there seems no reason to spend public money toward such chemicals that will necessitate another transition in the near future anyway.