The federal government has announced a phase-down of HFC imports to occur from January 2018, which is estimated to reduce HFC emissions by 85 per cent by 2036, and contribute 80 millions tonnes towards Australia’s 2030 emissions reductions targets.

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt said it was a “stunning outcome”.

“This is equivalent to two years of total global emissions,” Mr Hunt said.

“Australia’s HFC phase-down will provide certainty for business and ensure Australia is well-placed to meet any future international obligations to phase-down hydrofluorocarbons.”

The news has been strongly welcomed by airconditioning and refrigeration industry bodies.

According to the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractor’s Association, the announcement sets more ambitious phase-down targets than those proposed under the latest round of international Montreal Protocol negotiations, with a lower baseline and more frequent reduction steps.

“The announcement this week comes at an important time for the Australian economy and our natural environment,” AMCA executive director Sumit Oberoi said.

“Every industry has an obligation to take action to reduce its environmental impact, and must be supported by strong and stable government policy that aims to deliver environmental outcomes in the most cost effective way possible.

“We commend government on taking leadership in the area of HFC emissions reductions, and look forward to working with the Department [of Environment] as the measures are developed and implemented.”

Refrigerants Australia executive director Dr Greg Picker said the move was strongly supported by industry.

“The refrigeration and air conditioning industry actively supports a phase down of the global warming potential of refrigerants over the next two decades: this both guarantees improved environmental outcomes while also giving industry long-term certainty,” he said.

“The issue of long-term certainty is crucial to the environmental outcome. It provides industry the opportunity to undertake the research and to develop and deploy new technologies that ensure that requirements to decrease the climate impact of refrigerants can occur while improving energy performance of airconditioning and refrigeration equipment.”

He said the industry’s move away from ozone-depleting substances had seen it decrease emissions more than any other sector.

“We have successfully managed the transition away from ozone depleting substances, and we are working with government to deliver a range of additional cost-effective benefits including reduced costs to consumers, better performance of refrigeration and airconditioning equipment, improved energy efficiency and significant emission reductions.”

The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturers Association of Australia said the phase-down would help industry be better able to balance the considerations of environmental impact with safety, energy efficiency, cost, suitability and a range of other considerations.

“A HFC phase down provides industry with the long-term certainty they need to plan for, and invest in, the new technologies we will need,” AREMA president Mark Padwick said.

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