US EPA/State Department Briefs Stakeholders on HFC Controls


Halon Alternatives Research Corporation

On Tuesday, February 16, EPA and the State Department hosted a stakeholder meeting to begin discussion for 2016 on the issue of HFCs in the Montreal Protocol. Participants included Janet McCabe, Sarah Dunham, Drusilla Hufford and Cindy Newberg of EPA, along with Jennifer Haverkamp, Dan Reifsynder and John Thompson of State. There were about 50 attendees representing industry and environmental NGOs.

With the agreement at the 2015 Meeting of Parties (MOP) on a path forward towards an amendment that would add HFCs to the Montreal Protocol and slow phase down their production, the US has already started diplomatic efforts to achieve the adoption an HFC amendment in 2016. These efforts include a tour of key Middle Eastern countries, a meeting in Canada of “like-minded” countries, an HFC workshop later this month in Saudi Arabia, and a US-India HFC Task Force meeting in March.

The four amendment proposals that were submitted in 2015 by the United States, Mexico and Canada (North American Proposal), European Union, India, and Micronesia (Island States) have been resubmitted for 2016 and will be discussed at open-ended working group (OEWG) meetings in April and July, an extraordinary MOP in July, and the regular MOP in October. Although the four amendment proposals have many differences, they all envision a GWP-weighted phase down of HFC production in developed countries that begins with a 0-15% reduction in the first year of the program and ends with an 85-90% reduction in 2033-2036.

The key issues that will need to be addressed for an amendment proposal to be adopted in 2016 are the baselines and reduction schedules, financing for an HFC phase down in developing countries under the multilateral fund, and issues related to the availability of low-GWP alternatives for high-ambient temperatures. Although it was thought that a phase down approach as opposed to a complete phase out would eliminate the need for essential use exemptions, it appears that some kind of high-ambient temperature exemption will be required to get agreement on an amendment from Middle Eastern countries.

We will discuss these issues in more detail at the March 3 HARC meeting.

As an introduction to the discussion of HFCs, Janet McCabe (acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation) reviewed the following current and proposed actions to address greenhouse gases:

Clean Power Plants – The Supreme Court recently issued a stay of the EPA final rule controlling CO2 emissions from electric power generating plants. The rule is now on hold until the legal challenge is heard by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mobile Sources – EPA proposed emission standards in 2015 for heavy-duty vehicles.

EPA SNAP Program – EPA released a final rule in July that delists certain high-GWP HFCs in specific applications (not fire protection). A second SNAP delisting rule is under development and should be proposed by June.

ICAO CO2 Standard – The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed on a standard for CO2 emissions that will apply to all new aircraft designs starting in 2020 and new deliveries of in-production aircraft in 2023.

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