Refrigerants Australia executive director, Greg Picker, explains why the refrigeration and airconditioning industry is ready to tackle the challenges ahead in 2016.

The refrigeration and air conditioning industry has quite a lot to be proud of in relation to our environmental performance.

Our use and emissions of refrigerants has decreased from the equivalent of around 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the early 1990s to about eight million tonnes in 2014.

At the same time, the energy efficiency of our equipment has improved by about 40 per cent over the past decade.

The result is that while our industry has grown by more than 50 per cent since the early 1990s, our total carbon footprint has declined.

Despite these grand successes, the industry is being asked to do more through the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols.

So what does 2016 offer the industry?  A chance, an obligation, to continue to improve our services and deliver better products to the market.

The Dubai negotiations in October last year put the globe on a path to agree to a HFC phasedown during 2016.

The international community has already scheduled four meetings in 2016  and given the success in Paris the international pressure to deliver will be intense.

While there are still a few doubters, most governments – including the Australian Government – clearly want a deal done.

It is exceptionally likely that by the end of 2016 we will have an agreement to a phase down of HFCs.

And the Australian Government will not just idly sit and wait for an international deal.

I predict it will finally follow the advice given by mainstream industry since 2007 and announce a phase down through domestic legislation in the first half of 2016, even if the international rules are not yet decided.

An agreement on a phase down in 2016 will lock in the introduction and use of different refrigerants – new blends and HFOs, ammonia and CO2, hydrocarbons and not-in-kind solutions. 

And the outcomes in Paris requiring Australia and the world to reduce emissions further will see an ongoing focus on energy efficiency.

We know in 2016 we will see work to agree to the next round of Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS). 

As was clearly demonstrated in 2015, MEPS is imperative to ensure that unscrupulous manufacturers who promote products claiming unrealistic energy efficiencies will have their claim – and equipment – tested.

MEPS works to guarantee that our industry continues to deliver energy efficient products to the community.

With luck and policy insight, Australian Governments – Federal and State – will also see the benefit in ensuring that refrigeration and air conditioning equipment is installed and maintained to a good standard.

Including these aspects in regulation would see improvements in energy and refrigerant use, performance and longevity – all of which will save the consumer money.

2016 will be the year in which demands on our industry increase again, but we are ready.