A global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) production and imports was agreed under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 2016. Australia’s phase-down of imports of HFCs is underway, with importers required to hold quota for all imports of bulk HFCs from 1 January 2018. Phasing down imports of these potent greenhouse gases will lead to reduced emissions and contribute to meeting Australia’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
What’s happening with HFC bulk gas?
- The amount of bulk HFC that can be imported each year is gradually reducing from 1 January 2018. This is managed through a quota system on imports.
- This is a phase-down not a phase out. There will be a residual amount (up to about 1.6 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent annually) of HFC imports permitted from 2036 which will be available indefinitely.
- Use of HFC that is recovered in Australia is allowed. There appears to be little or no HFC being recovered and returned to manufacturer’s specifications in the current market as new supply is sufficient. This may change as the phase-down progresses.
What’s happening with HFC equipment?
- The HFC phase-down covers only imports of bulk gas, such as in cylinders. It does not cover gas imported in pre-charged equipment such as air-conditioners or refrigerators.
- HFCs contained in imported equipment are accounted for, and subject to the phase-down, in the country of manufacture.
- Existing equipment already in Australia is not affected by the phase-down. Regular servicing can benefit owners through reduced electricity costs and reduced replacement costs for leaked refrigerant.
- New high global warming potential HFC equipment production in Australia and overseas is expected to reduce as the international HFC phase-down progresses.
Will HFC equipment imports be banned in future?
- This may be considered in the future—but only following a review and further consultation with industry, and where alternative technologies are readily available. Any future bans would only apply to new equipment being imported or manufactured and not to equipment already installed in Australia.