Hydrofluorocarbon Phase-Down Policy
In January 2018, Australia plans to adapt a policy that has it’s origins in the Montreal Protocol. The plan will phase-down the use and import of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This agreement calls for an 85% reduction of HFCs in developed nations between 2019 and 2036. Australia has adapted a phase-down plan to meet the requirements of the protocol. While HFCs are not Australia’s most abundant GHG, they can have an important impact on climate change. Reductions of even a small amount can have drastic and rapid benefits. One ton of HFCs or CFCs can have a global warming impact that is 10,000 or more times stronger than an equal amount of CO2. Between this and the ease at which HFCs can be decreased from industry use, addressing the use of HFCs makes for a very practical climate change policy.
This policy has the potential to bring about a huge reduction of GHG emissions both in Australia and in other nations where it is being implemented. There are low or no cost replacement gases that can be used in place of HFCs that do not require significant equipment changes or increases in consumer cost. Additionally, the atmospheric lifetime of HFCs is far shorter than that of CO2 so the turnaround time to start seeing and feeling the benefits of this reduction are much shorter than policies that address CO2.
The reduction in emissions will be achieved through a gradually declining cap on imports and is estimated to achieve up to 72 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent emission savings by 2050. Although the national policy will start to be implemented in 2018, states and cities have the opportunity to move more quickly in implementing HFC reduction policies of their own and to begin moving the country towards its 85% HFC reduction goal.
Link to full HFC policy: http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/ozone/legislation/opsggm-review/hfc-phase-down-faqs