Delegates attending UNFCCC climate talks in Paris clinched a historic deal on 12 December, uniting all the world’s nations in a single agreement to tackle climate change for the first time and to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. The deal gives clear momentum to the heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) industry to seek viable alternatives to substances with high global-warming potential.
2016 “a significant year” for natural refrigerant manufacturers
“We are fully expecting 2016 to be a significant year in the future phase-down of HFCs”, said James Nutting, director (marketing) at Carrier Commercial Refrigeration (Europe) – part of United Technologies Corporation (UTC). The company is closely following progress of the Montreal Protocol treaty signed in November, which works towards an agreement to phase down HFCs in 2016 and sent a strong message to the COP21 meeting.
UTC sees the Paris climate deal as a particularly significant milestone given that it covers both the developed and developing world. UTC is also a signatory of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, submitted to COP21, and has confirmed its intention to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
For Dorin, a leading manufacturer of CO2 refrigeration applications, the Paris agreement underlined the importance of reaching a global agreement to regulate emissions. “It reinforces the need to work on low-GWP synthetic gases as well as on natural refrigeration gases,” the company’s marketing manager, Giovanni Dorin, told R744.com.
With the EU F-Gas Regulation driving change among Europe’s food retailers, natural refrigerant technology providers have high expectations that demand for their systems will increase. Sanden’s European Sales & Marketing Manager Sylvain Gillaux predicted that natural technology will ultimately take the lion’s share of the market, but saw HFOs as an interim solution, “disturbing the market for a short time period” leading up to 2020.
Meanwhile, Daryn S. Cline – Director, Environmental Technologies at EVAPCO – said the company was well-positioned to help countries deliver the objectives of the Paris agreement by designing, manufacturing and putting on the market equipment that utilises atmosphere-friendly natural refrigerants.
“The […] countries that have made the commitment to meet the requirements of the Paris accord will need to incorporate natural refrigerant technologies for these systems,” Cline said.
Qi Wang, advanced innovation manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific, said “we have to take actions aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now, and deliver a peak in global energy-rated emissions by 2020”.
To achieve this goal, Thermo Fisher is taking several steps: for example, it will replace all HFC refrigerants in the cold storage products with Hydrocarbon refrigerants by 2020, and it plans to reduce the energy consumption of its entire cold storage portfolio by more than 50% by 2020.
“Greatest business opportunity of the century”
Other leading HVAC&R industry players and natural refrigerant end users have reinforced commitments to reducing their carbon footprint and to contribute to achieving the Paris agreement’s targets.
“Of course Paris is just the beginning. It now falls to all of us, whether in business, government, finance or civil society, to work together to take the promises on paper and turn them into action on the ground,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman, describing achieving a zero-emissions economy as “the greatest business opportunity of the century”.
Polman estimates that the billions of dollars pledged by developed countries in Paris will be matched with trillions of dollars flowing to low-carbon investment from the private sector. Meanwhile, he expects leadership actions currently being undertaken by hundreds of businesses, for example moving to 100% renewable energy, will become the norm for hundreds of thousands.
As an official partner of COP21, French food retail giant Carrefour was fully committed to helping to ensure its success. Carrefour is aiming to reduce emissions in its stores by 40% between now and 2025 (compared to 2010 levels). It has already reduced its emissions by 30% in its stores in Europe and implemented a series of initiatives to reduce energy wastage by installing refrigeration systems that consume less energy.
Committed to becoming HFC-free
The Coca-Cola Company is aiming to make all new cold drink equipment HFC-free across its global system, including vending machines, coolers and fountain machines – particularly as refrigeration is the largest part of the company’s carbon footprint.
“While reaching our goal will take longer than anticipated, we remain committed to getting there. All new cold drink equipment purchases will be HFC-free and have lower energy consumption than legacy models by 2020,” said Tomas Ambrosetti, responsible for eKOfreshment global at the Coca-Cola Company.
The company has introduced more than 1.5 million HFC-free coolers and vending machines into the marketplace. About 40 percent of these coolers are based on CO2, which has 1,430 times less global warming potential than typical HFC refrigerant gases.
Reinforcing its continued commitment leading up to COP21, the Coca-Cola Company signed up to the We Mean Business climate leadership initiative which aims to reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions.