India has launched the second phase of the programme to eliminate the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) as part of its commitment under the Montreal Protocol, which requires the complete removal of chemicals that result in ozone depletion and aid global warming.
These are used mainly in the air-conditioning, refrigeration, polyurethane foam manufacturing and cold chain sectors, and must be replaced with better alternatives. All these sectors are in high growth mode as emerging economies witness greater urbanisation and higher agricultural productivity.
The data for refrigerant consumption during 2015 compiled by the European Union show that in the developing world, split air-conditioning units, car ACs and commercial refrigeration record the highest use of these chemicals.
It is imperative the Central government ensures that its efforts to upgrade industries using the $44.1 million in funding available under the Protocol are scaled up to meet the need fully.
Modernising the technology used by 400 industrial units, many of them small and medium enterprises, by 2023 has to be complemented by policy changes that encourage adoption by consumers. Systemic change requires the active participation of State governments, which can enact and enforce new building codes and purchase regulations that are envisaged in the current phase. Newer refrigerants with lower global warming potential are available to industry, and there are some early adopters, while research on chemicals with greater energy reduction and very low contribution to global warming has to continue.
Credentialed training of service technicians in the newer technologies is welcome as it will bring about change of refrigerants used in the repair and replacement market and create additional employment. It is important to make consumers aware of green options among products in terms of the underlying technologies, and incentivise adoption through tax structures.The Environment Ministry’s proposal to prescribe energy-efficient temperature limits for air-conditioning units in public facilities is promising. A lot of energy is wasted because of poor infrastructure and lack of understanding of efficiency metrics.