Climate Change

Defining High Ambient Temperature crucial to HFC phase-down

A population weighted effective temperature model is being recommended by experts at the 37th Open-Ended Working Group meeting in Geneva

By Umang Jalan
Published: Wednesday 06 April 2016

Innovation and research is required in refrigeration and air-conditioning to increase energy efficiency in HAT conditions (ThinkStock Photos)

There was slow progress on Day 2 of the 37th Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) meeting that aimed to discuss the possible challenges to a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phase-down amendment.

Of these, a crucial challenge is to ascertain the criteria for counting high ambient temperature (HAT) countries. This is important, as these countries would require special provisions under an eventual HFC phase-down amendment to transition to low global warming potential (GWP) alternatives. These could include sectoral exemptions and prolonged lag times for implementation of the phase-down.

The definition of HAT has been a bone of contention at the convention so far. Argentina, for example, said that due to its diversity in geographical features and climatic conditions, it may not qualify as high ambient temperature (HAT) under the traditional models. The country therefore stressed for an accommodating and fair definition of high ambient temperatures around the world.

Traditional models for defining HAT countries looked at the average or maximum temperatures. New models have been proposed during this OEWG that look at effective temperatures rather than just the ambient temperature. Effective temperature also takes into account the relative humidity and thus, is a better way of measuring the amount of refrigeration and air-conditioning. Another new model proposed has been a population weighted average of temperatures from different parts of the world. This would avoid regions of high temperatures with very low population densities.

Perhaps a combination of these ideas—a population weighted effective temperature calculation can be used to classify the globe into different temperature regions. The method can then be used to identify the countries that should be exempted under the new HFC phase-down amendment to transition to low GWP gases.

It is estimated that a large majority of the world’s population may fall into high ambient temperature category depending on definition used in the HFC phase-down amendment.

Innovation and research is required in refrigeration and air-conditioning to increase energy efficiency of these systems in HAT conditions, while maintaining the use of low GWP alternatives. Care must be taken however to make sure expensive and prolonged Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) do not restrict such innovation from those who need it the most.

Centre for Science and Environment is hosting a side-event at the OEWG in Geneva on Thursday (April 7, 2016) on the possible IPR impediments that may arise as part of the HFC phase-down. The event will aim to explore the challenges and solutions to the possible IPR impediments in the future.

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