The Federal Government today announced it will deliver a 85 per cent phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC).
Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, said a re-elected Turnbull Coalition government will join the United States, Europe and Japan by taking early action on hydrofluorocarbons.
The announcement is part of a number of initiatives announced under revisions to the ozone protection legislation.
He said the phasedown will contribute an estimated 80 million tonnes to Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction targets as well as help improve energy productivity.
"By working together, the Government and industry have reduced annual greenhouse emissions from CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs from over 100 million tonnes in 1989 to under 12 million tonnes now," Hunt said.
"And we are now placed to further reduce emissions by a further 80 million tonnes over the period 2018 to 2030, this is a stunning outcome."
Hunt said Australia’s HFC phase-down supports the proposed global phase-down under the Montreal Protocol.
He said a Montreal Protocol phase-down would reduce global emissions by 90 – 110 billion tonnes by 2050.
"This is equivalent to 2 years of total global emissions," 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."
At the same time, Hunt said the Emissions Reduction Fund has already contracted 143 million tonnes of emissions reductions at an average price of $12.10 per tonne.
Moreover, the Renewable Energy Target will see a doubling of large scale renewable energy by 2020.
"Over 15 per cent of Australian households have access to rooftop solar, the highest penetration in the world," Hunt said.
"Plus, the Coalition will invest $1 billion investment in a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund."
Hunt also pointed to the National Energy productivity Plan as another positive initiative that will achieve a 40 per cent increase in energy efficiency by 2030.
"We have announced new measures to improve the energy efficiency of appliances including lighting, air conditioners and refrigerators, as well as expand the commercial building disclosure program," he said.
Several industry groups welcomed the news that the government will legislate a phasedown as part of revisions to the ozone protection legislation.
The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturers Association of Australia (AREMA), the Automotive Air Conditioning, Electrical and Cooling Technicians of Australasia (VASA) and Refrigerants Australia issued statements supporting the phasedown.
AREMA president, Mark Padwick, said refrigeration and air conditioner manufacturers have to contend with a range of issues when selecting which refrigerants to use.
“Not only do they want to choose refrigerants with low environmental impact if released, they need to consider safety for the consumer, energy efficiency, cost, suitability and a range of other considerations," he said.
“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.
“Working with industry to lay out the roadmap for future technology choices, the government is enabling industry to continue to provide the equipment and services Australia needs while continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Changes to the ozone protection legislation will accelerate changes to automotive air conditioning systems, a move welcomed by VASA.
VASA said the phasedown will accelerate the uptake of R1234yf.
"The federal government will consider regulating to ensure the existing industry standard refrigerant, R134a, is phased out of use in new vehicles over the next few years," a VASA spokesperson said.
"The HFC phasedown will accelerate, and eventually mandate, the switch to low GWP refrigerants in the air conditioning systems of new vehicles.
"In fact a growing number of vehicles imported to Australia from markets where a phasedown is in place are already on Australian roads and the end of local car manufacturing in 2017 will add momentum to the uptake."
Refrigerants Australia executive director, Greg Picker, said industry actively supports a phasedown of the GWP of HFC refrigerants over the next two decades.
"This announcement guarantees improved environmental outcomes while also giving industry long-term certainty," he said.
CCN understands more announcements are planned in the wake of the ozone review.