As part of its climate change mitigation efforts, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) recently launched the second phase of the implementation plan for the phase out the ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 2040.

The launch of the second tranche activities of the Hydrochlorofluorocarbons Phase out Management Plan (HPMP) for the Philippines Stage 2 coincided with the celebration of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer on Sept. 16.

"By phasing out the use of these ozone-depleting substances (ODS) in the country, we have already contributed to the mitigation of climate change," DENR Undersecretary for Planning, Policy and International Affairs and ODS National Coordinator Jonas R. Leones said in his welcome message.

In 1991, the Philippines adopted the Montreal Protocol, a Multilateral Environmental Agreement that aims to phase out ODS such as HCFCs by replacing them with ozone-friendly alternatives to prevent the thinning of the ozone layer, curb the effects of climate change, and help boost energy efficiency in the cooling sector.

HCFCs, which are used in refrigerators and air conditioners, big chillers and mobile chillers that preserve food and vaccines, are the last group of ODS which is still due for phase out by 2040.

The HPMP Stage 2, which will run until 2022, targets to reduce the HCFC consumption by 50 percent in 2021 and is expected to prevent a minimum of 0.5 million carbon dioxide equivalent tons of emissions.

"This project is a timely support to the government because this will help in terms of its international obligations and meet its commitment to the Montreal Protocol," UNIDO Project Coordinator Bellrose B. Buraga said.

Other partners for the project are the Department of Energy, Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Customs, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the private sector.

Buraga explained that the HPMP Stage 2 specifically aims to ban the manufacture of HCFC-22 or R-22 air conditioners with a cooling capacity of less than 36,000 BTU/hr (British thermal unit) and on imports of HCFC-22 air conditioners.

It also targets to provide technical assistance to enforcement and custom authorities and the refrigeration and air conditioner sector, leverage on industry cooperation through trainings and studies, strengthen licensing and performance standards, and promote the use of low global warming potentials or GWPs alternatives, among others.

"In the year 2018, our consumption of HCFC already reduced by 34.6% near to the year 2020 target of 35% reduction from the HCFC baseline consumption. The 2019 reduction rate is at 35.94%. For 2020, the importation data (68.75%) has drastically decreased mainly because of the global pandemic that we are still currently experiencing," said DENR-EMB Assistant Director Vizminda A. Osorio during her presentation on the HCFC phase-out implementation status.

The government has successfully phased out the use of HCFC-141B in the foam manufacturing sector during the Stage 1 of the HPMP implementation from 2014 to 2017.

Osorio also gave updates on the status of the ratification of the Kigali Amendment, the reform to the Montreal Protocol which aims to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs —considered to be the potent greenhouse gases that contribute significantly to climate change —starting 2029.

She added that the DENR has already endorsed the Certificate of Concurrences of the Kigali Amendment to the Department of Foreign Affairs for endorsement to the Office of the President.

In anticipation of the Kigali Amendment's ratification, the DENR-EMB has already prepared the Chemical Control Order for the phase-down of HFCs.

It is also closely coordinating with importers and the refrigeration and air conditioning sector for substitute to HFCs that are available and economically viable to consumers.

"Our government is serious in its commitment to the global phase out of ozone-depleting substances, and later to phase-down HFCs once the ratification process on the Kigali Amendment is completed," Leones said.

In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Sept. 16 as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing of the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

This year's celebration has the theme, "Montreal Protocol Keeping Us, Our Food and Vaccines Cool." ###