On 16 January, Japan's environment and industry ministries proposed a draft bill outlining measures to tighten regulations on f-gases in Japan.
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry
At a 16 January advisory council of experts hosted jointly by Japan's Ministry of Environment (MOE) and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), a draft bill was proposed outlining a number of measures to tighten regulations on f-gas recovery and disposal in Japan. The bill has also raised awareness regarding natural refrigerants as a market-ready replacement solution in the country.
The proper recovery and disposal of f-gases in Japan has proven to be challenging, preventing the country from progressing to meet HFC reduction targets imposed by the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
The total rate of F-gas recovery per year has never exceeded 40% since 2002, according to the draft bill document seen by this website.
The draft document states that Japan aims to achieve an f-gas recovery rate of 50% by 2020 and 70% by 2030.
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper highlighted the issue in an editorial entitled, 'Japan needs to heat up efforts to slash harmful emissions', which referenced the recent meeting.
Asahi Shimbun reports that the measures proposed in the draft bill include "imposing a fine on every violation of the law and banning waste disposal firms from dealing with products without HFC recovery certificates". "They would also empower prefectural governments to make on-the-spot inspections at building demolition work sites," it adds.
"The draft amendment will be submitted to the Diet during the regular session that starts in late January," the article states.
HFC recovery only a partial solution
The Asahi Shimbun also highlights the fact that refrigerant recovery and disposal can only partially contribute to Japan achieving its HFC phase-down targets — with natural refrigerants playing a key role in Japan's efforts.
"Achieving the target of an 85% cut by 2036 requires replacing HFCs with climate-friendly alternatives," the article states.
"There are various natural refrigerants that are drawing growing attention as possible substitutes for HFCs, including ammonia, CO2, hydrocarbons, air and water."
"The government should provide solid policy support for such efforts."
Indeed, the government — and the two ministries in particular — have been actively providing policy support for the accelerated uptake and development of natural refrigerant based solutions.
Last December, the Japanese Ministry of Environment announced the reinstatement of its ongoing NatRef subsidy program with €58 million budgeted for FY2019.
In July 2017, the High Pressure Safety Institute of Japan (which falls under the authority of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry) eased restrictions on the use of CO2 as a refrigerant gas, making it easier for end users to adopt CO2-based refrigeration systems.
Representatives from both the MOE and METI are scheduled to speak at the upcoming ATMOsphere Japan 2019 event, which will be held on 12 February in Tokyo, the day before Japan’s largest retail exhibition, the Supermarket Tradeshow.
To see the latest programme, click here.
To register for the event, click here.