“Industry has to learn from this experience” - Interview with Brent Hoare (II)

By Sabine Lobnig, Nov 13, 2009, 10:18 5 minute reading

In Part II of this exclusive interview, Brent Hoare, Green Cooling Association, talks about concrete outcomes for the natural refrigerants industry from the Montreal Protocol meeting last week, about the necessity of HFC phase-out schemes, and the key challenges ahead for upcoming climate talks.

hydrocarbons21.com: At the Open Ended Working Group of the Parties meeting in Port Ghalib from 4-8 November, you seized the opportunity to address the plenary with a short comment about the availability and prospects of natural refrigerants. Could you repeat key messages and tell us what reaction your intervention sparked?

Brent Hoare: It was a great honour to be given the opportunity to address the plenary session, and to be able to post a closing statement on the conference intranet (see attached below). By making this statement Green Cooling was able to put itself on the map, and to draw attention to the briefing paper we brought to the meeting. Throughout the duration of the meeting many positive comments were received, and although the information presented may have been new to many delegates, the contribution was certainly appreciated.

We were able to draw the attention of Parties to the fact that the world is in need of future proof, climate friendly cooling technologies. Such solutions exist now through natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons, ammonia and carbon dioxide, as well as air and water and ‘not in kind’ equipment and systems, including newly emerging solar cooling technologies. We are undoubtedly in the early phase of a necessary natural refrigerants transition and these solutions are not yet commercially available for all applications. The Montreal Protocol can support the uptake of natural refrigerants through funding guidelines and policy decisions that discourage the use of HFCs.

The natural refrigerants industry worldwide stands ready to assist parties to achieve the twin goals of protecting the ozone layer and to reduce greenhouse gases. The problems we face as a species are grave. The need to use all tools at our disposal to address the climate emergency is urgent. We urge the parties to work to overcome the disagreements that have delayed progress at this meeting, to coordinate action on HFCs with the UNFCCC, and to make 2010 a turning point in the development of the Montreal Protocol for ozone and climate protection.

HC21.com: What are concrete outcomes regarding the widespread use of natural refrigerants from the Egypt Meeting?

Hoare: While the hoped for agreement on the need to address HFCs under the Montreal Protocol was not reached this time around, the central place on the agenda this discussion occupied has built a firm foundation for great progress at future meetings that we can be confident will succeed in bringing natural refrigerants faster to market around the world. Important decisions were reached to task the Technical and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP), the key advisory body to the parties, to undertake further work on both the existing availability of natural refrigerants, and the solutions likely to become available in the near future.

The declaration of intent signed by 41 countries (see attached below) and supported in broad principle by Australia, the EU and Japan was a significant achievement that will ensure the HFC issue remains high on the agenda. Important and lengthy discussions on the need to improve recovery and destruction of existing banks also took place that are likely to result in decisions to deliver practical improvements on the ground during meetings in 2010.
A key blockage to agreement centred on the role of the UNFCCC, and the meeting has greatly improved the chances that HFCs will achieve much needed attention in Copenhagen next month that would likely not have been the case in the absence of the lengthy and at times difficult debate that took place.

Climate negotiators did not break the deadlock and missed the opportunity to control and limit the production of high global warming HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. What is your position regarding a partial “phase down” of HFCs? And what does this delay mean for natural refrigerants’ chances to become a worldwide substitute for ozone-depleting and global warming gases?

In line with the firm position of Greenpeace International, Green Cooling is strongly of the view that while phase-down proposals are well intentioned, and even strategically necessary at this stage, they fall far short of what the science is clearly telling us is required, and what we understand to be practical, deliverable and imperative.

HC21.com: Are you satisfied with the outcomes of the Montreal Protocol meeting in general, and with the representation of the natural refrigerants industry specifically?

Hoare: The delay we have witnessed at this meeting I do not think influences the destination to which the industry is already heading, but when people in future look back on last week’s debate and resulting decisions, it will be seen as affecting the speed at which we could have got there. The disappointment felt by many at the end was strong, even if it came as no surprise. Clearly much more could have been achieved. We have a long way to go, and we will get there much more quickly if the industry learns from the experience we had last week, and increases the resources available to ensure more active participation in future meetings.

HC21.com: A final question: What is it you take away from the climate discussions and what gives you hope that hydrocarbons and other natural substances can play a stronger role in future climate talks, also as regards upcoming negotiations in Copenhagen?

Hoare: The key challenge we face as advocates of natural refrigerants is to transform the Montreal Protocol from being all about ozone protection into an even more effective international agreement that is capable of addressing the inextricably linked problems of ozone and climate.
I’m a born optimist, and in spite of the avalanche of evidence that is pouring in that the problems are much bigger than have been projected, I’m confident that as a species we are capable of rising to the challenges before us and controlling emissions using all tools at our disposal in time to avoid the worst predicted impacts of climate chaos.
The fact that we face a climate emergency is rapidly becoming understood, and we have to believe that the responses needed will be made, as the consequences of not doing so do not bear contemplation.


By Sabine Lobnig

Nov 13, 2009, 10:18

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