Climate Change

Excluding mobile air conditioning from amendment may solve IPR issue in HFC phase down

Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) sector is the main source of IPR impediment and accounts for only 8 per cent of global HFC emissions, finds a CSE study

By Umang Jalan
Published: Friday 08 April 2016
Experts at the side event organised by Centre for Science and Environment

On the penultimate day of the 37th Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) meeting, Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) hosted a side event on “Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) impediments to an HFC phase down”. The event was attended by representatives from the government, industry, academia and media.

Findings of a patent analysis that CSE commissioned with Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) were used in the event. The study focused on patents filed for the manufacture and use of HFO 1234yf (a low global warming potential gas) and its blends, in the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector, with a focus on the Mobile Air-Conditioning (MAC). According to experts, the use of HFO 1234yf is pre-dominant.

The application patents granted for HFO 1234yf are highly restrictive. Additionally, the automobile industry is concentrated and HFO 1234yf is widely used in EU and US. A phase down amendment will, therefore, lead to large scale implementation of the refrigerant and spiraling costs because of the high cost of HFOs, blends and licenses. CSE proposed that due to relatively low contribution (about 8 per cent of emissions by 2050) of the MAC sector to the total HFC consumption, it should be excluded from the main draft of an amendment.

CSE estimated that it might cost the multilateral fund more than US $250 million to compensate for a transition to HFO 1234yf in the MAC sector by 2025. This would mean that there will be little money left for other sectors like stationary air conditioning, which have larger contribution to the global HFC emissions.

International experts from the Peeking University in China, who were present during the event, have agreed with CSE’s findings.

Resolution of the IPR issue may not be possible by the end of 2016, experts say. This may lead to a delay or a weak HFC amendment, which would be detrimental to the Montreal Protocol and the environment as a whole. Delaying inclusion of MAC in the initial phase of HFC mitigation amendment and reviewing the sector periodically as part of the technical review process suggested by the US proposal, may be important as per experts.

In addition to this event, the day also included a paper by African countries on the operationalisation of a new HFC phase down amendment. However, there was no consensus on adopting the suggestions made in the paper. Members also discussed the proposal to exclude high ambient temperature floated by the US. The issue is expected to garner more attention on the last day of the conference.

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