The Government is phasing down the use of the powerful greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in the air-conditioning and refrigeration industries, to help address climate change, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced this morning at the Bluegreens breakfast of the National Party’s northern conference.

“This plan to phase down the use of HFCs is an important part of the Government’s policies for addressing climate change. These synthetic gases are up to 15,000 times more potent in their global warming effect than carbon dioxide and are projected to by themselves raise temperatures by 0.5degC by the end of the century.

“This plan proposes to progressively reduce HFC consumption by more than 80 per cent over the next 20 years. Between 2019 and 2036, New Zealand will reduce the levels of HFC imports from around 1340 ktCo2eq to less than 260, meaning that New Zealand will meet its international commitments ahead of schedule. It will enable us to ratify the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol early next year and it will also contribute towards New Zealand’s Paris commitment of reducing our overall greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.”

The original Montreal Protocol from 1987 initially focussed on reducing chlorofluorocarbons, and then hydrochlorofluorocarbons, for the harm they do to the earth’s ozone layer and has been one of the most successful international environmental agreements. The Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol was agreed last October at a meeting in which New Zealand strongly advocated extending scope of the Montreal Protocol to address the global warming impacts of HFCs.

“The phase down of HFCs will have implications for New Zealand industries like air conditioning and refrigeration that will need to convert to new technologies. Consumers with heat pumps will not need to upgrade them but future replacements will need to use new technologies. We have calibrated the phasedown timetable to give industry and consumers time to adapt while also ensuring New Zealand positively contributes to the global challenge of reducing greenhouse gases.

“We welcome input on these proposals from industry, environmentalists and consumers, with submissions closing on 23 June 2017. We want to progress this work and the new regulations so New Zealand can lead in ratifying the Kigali amendment later this year,” Dr Smith concluded.

The consultation document and information on how to submit your views is available here.

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