Belgrade, Serbia, 1 December 2016 – Heads of national refrigeration assocations and Montreal Protocol focal points from Eastern European countries, Greece and Tunisia enhance ozone layer protection and sustainable management of climate gases: The experts shared highlights, challenges and lessons learnt from the implementation of their respective HCFC phase-out strategies and from the surveys on ozone-friendly alternatives during the thematic meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, 29 November – 1 December 2016.
Mr. Slobodan Erdeljan, Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, opened the thematic meeting and highlighted that the Republic of Serbia fulfilled its obligations under the Montreal Protocol and reduced its consumption of ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by more than 10% below the baseline level in 2015. He wished the participants a successful meeting and encouraged them to share their knowledge and lessons learned and to assist each other to overcome any potential barriers to Montreal Protocol implementation.
Ms. Irena Vojackova-Sollorano, the UN Country Team Resident Representative welcomed the participants and drew attention to the importance of the Paris Agreement which entered into force on Friday, 4 November 2016. The agreement has been ratified by 113 out of 197 countries including Albania, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Ukraine from the Eastern Europe & Central Asia region. It aims to limit global warming to 2 degrees C by the year 2100. The Kigali Agreement to the Montreal Protocol has been agreed on 15 October 2016 and aims to phase-down high-GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). It will avoid half a degree C of global warming and thus significantly contributes to the objectives of the Paris Agreement. It transforms the Montreal Protocol into a powerful treaty for climate protection. The UN Country Team remains committed to assist Serbia to ratify and implement the Paris Agreement and Kigali Amendment as part of Serbia's Development Partnership Framework.
It was the first time that such thematic meeting was held in the margin of the annual International Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVAC&R) Congress and Exhibition of the Serbian Association of HVAC&R Engineers (KGH). Mr. Branislav Todorović, President of the KGH Association, emphasized the benefits of combining the thematic meeting with the international congress and invited the participants to attend the thematic sessions, the forum on energy efficiency in climate and ozone-friendly modern technologies and the exhibition space.
Mr. Tim Wentz, the President of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), remarked on the collaborative history of ASHRAE and UN Environment searching technical solutions for countries with hot ambient climates and building the capacity of refrigeration experts. ASHRAE is a partner of the refrigerant driving license - a recent initiative led by UN Environment and AHRI - to develop a global and industry-driven training and assessment tool for refrigeration experts. This initiative allows interested experts to acquire the minimum skills needed for safely serving ozone- and climate-friending refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.
Mr. Didier Coulomb, General Director of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), reiterated that Serbia was one of the founding members of IIR more than 100 years ago and congratulated the Parties to the Montreal Protocol for successfully protecting the ozone layer. The phase-down of hydrochlorocarbons (HFCs) under the recently agreed Kigali Amendment will require focusing on safety issues, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies. Closer cooperation with the national climate and energy focal points will be crucial.
The meeting focused on the HCFC phase-out strategies and the surveys on ozone-friendly alternatives in the participating countries. The results of the surveys will provide a better understanding of the current use and consumption trends of high global warming HFCs as well as climate friendly HFOs and natural refrigerants by sector and by substance. Such data will be useful for informed policy making and sustainable refrigerant management. The voluntary inclusion of HFCs and possibly other refrigerants in the national import / export licensing system and the informal Prior Informed Consent mechanism might enhance data accuracy. Several participants highlighted the importance to involve the national climate focal points in the surveys, in particular because of their experience of calculation emission inventories.
Several sessions were dedicated to the strengthening of legislation, the adoption safety and performance standards, training and certification of technicians and companies, the promotion of ozone and climate-friendly technologies and the role of RAC associations in implementing the Montreal Protocol.
The International Institute of Refrigeration and Serbia expressed interest in the Refrigerant Driving License – an initiative of UN Environment OzonAction in cooperation with the Air-conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and interested refrigeration & air-conditioning (RAC) associations. The aim of this initiatives is the development of a globally recognized and industry-driven certification scheme for RAC service technicians allowing them to work safely with ozone and climate-friendly refrigerants. Interested RAC associations are invited to participate in the steering committee and countries might participate in the pilot phase in 2017 (subject to regional distribution) or the global launch in 2018. China included the Refrigerant Driving License in its HCFC phase-out strategy and this might also be a viable option for countries without an operational certification system.
UNIDO’s representative briefed the participants on the status of the regional training center currently being established in Yerevan as a Russian bilateral project with UNIDO as implementing agency. The aim of this “center of excellence” is the promotion of climate-friendly RAC technologies in the developing (Article 50 countries of the ECA network. A lyceum has been selected as the training facility and it is equipped among others with a classroom, a conference room, a computer room, work stations, a library, and a canteen. A website provides more detailed information and the start of the actual training activities is scheduled beginning of 2017.
Public procurement is increasingly recognized as a strategic tool to promote wider Government policies including environment protection, innovation, job creation and promoting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In average, it accounts for 12% GDP in OECD countries and 14% GDP in European Union countries and thus represents an immense purchasing power. Countries like China and India have included green public procurement in their HCFC phase-out strategies (stage II). This might be a powerful tool to promote ozone and climate-friendly technologies in the RAC sector.
For the first time, the agenda included a session on gender considerations in project implementation. There has been some discussion on how to apply gender analysis and statistics to projects addressing global environmental problems such as ozone layer depletion and global warming. The the future mandate of the Montreal Protocol addressing both ozone depletion and global warming will increasingly require addressing social dimensions and gender issues. This is already an eligibility criteria for several donor including the Green Climate Fund.
At the end of the meeting, the priorities of the UN Environment’s Regional Ozone Network for Europe & Central Asia (ECA network) were agreed. Next year’s network meeting will take place in Ohrid, Macedonia FYR, in May 2017. It will be held in parallel to the bi-annual congress of the International Institute of Refrigeration focusing on ammonia and carbon dioxide technologies to allow the refrigeration experts of the network countries to participate in selected sessions of the congress. Albania and Georgia agreed to host thematic meetings in autumn 2017.
The meeting has been organized by UN Environment OzonAction in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Serbia, UNDP Belgrade and SMEITS, as part of the work programme of the ECA network and funded by the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
Participants included Montreal Protocol focal points and refrigeration experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia FYR, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey, guest experts from Greece and Tunisia, representatives of the implementing agencies UN Environment and UNIDO, ASHRAE, International Institute of Refrigeration, Eurammon, Johnson Controls as well as international experts from Macedonia FYR and Norway.
Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Serbia
Ms. Bojana Djurovic, Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol Focal Point
UN Environment Paris
Mr. Halvart Koeppen, Coordinator of ECA Network
Ms. Rodica Ivan, Industrial Development Officer
Union of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers and Technicians of Serbia (SMEITS)
Mr. Vladan Galebovic
Soria, Spain - 28 September 2016: The owner of a recycling company has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to the illegal handling of electronic and toxic waste and releasing ozone-depleting and global warming refrigerants into the atmosphere. The man was also ordered to pay a daily fee during an eight-month period and received a three-year ban from working in the recycling industry.
The sentence came about thanks to an investigation by the Environmental Protection Unit of the Civil Guards (SEPRONA) – previously recognised by UN Environment with an award.
The illegal activity had been taking place since July 2013. As a result of the investigation, 600 electronic items including 203 refrigerators were confiscated at the demand of the specialized Public Prosecutor. The investigation also found that over 40 kg of mercury compounds had been dumped into the soil, and that the chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants R11 and R12 had been released into the atmosphere, accounting for at least 331 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. Other toxic substances such as lead, cadmium and zinc were also found on the company’s premises.
In January 2015, the representative of the Public Prosecutor´s Office for the Protection of the Environment in Soria discovered significant amounts of electronic waste, along with other toxic substances, on the premises of the recycling company, near Soria. SEPRONA discovered that the company was only authorized to recycle non-dangerous waste, not electronic or toxic waste. Scientific support for the investigation was provided by the technical unit of the Public Prosecutor´s Office.
This decision by Soria’s Criminal Court is the most recent in a series of similar decisions by Spanish Courts on the illegal release of CFCs into the atmosphere. In October 2016, the Public Prosecutor´s Office submitted another case to the Court in Madrid, in which 60 kg of hydrochloroflurocarbon R22 – another ozone-depleting and global warming refrigerant – had been offered for sale online. A one and a half year prison sentence and a daily fee during an 18-month period were demanded.
Earlier this year, the Public Prosecutor Office for the Protection of the Environment and SEPRONA received UN Environment’s Ozone Protection Award for Customs & Enforcement Officers for their commitment and persistence in combating environmental crime. It is the second time that they received this award.
UNEP issued the OzoNews for September 2016, which can be downloaded here.
UNEP issued the new report as part of UN Environment's work programme under the CCAC: “National Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) Inventories: A summary of key findings from the first tranche of studies.” Duncan Brack of IGSD was the lead author and the project was coordinated by OzonAction Paris. The CCAC Secretariat did the layout, printing and dissemination.
The report summarizes the findings of HFC use from the first six completed HFC inventories - Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia and Nigeria - all UNDP-assisted countries. This report includes preliminary results from Kyrgyzstan (UN Environment-assisted), Vietnam, Moldova and Sri Lanka.
Key findings from the 6 completed inventories: All countries are expecting continued increase of HFC consumption in the coming years as ozone depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are phased out. Based on the HFC use in the 6 countries, the average annual growth of HFC consumption was 16 per cent. Out of the different chemicals, HFC-134a is the most common, accounting for an average of 80 per cent of HFC use from 2011-2014 across the six countries. However, by 2020, R-401A, R404A and R-507A will have an increasingly larger share of the total.
The CCAC is organizing a side event at MOP-28 on Friday 14-October (room MH4, 1:15 PM) and those of you who will be in Kigali are encouraged to participate.