India Takes Major Step Towards Climate-Friendly Refrigerants

Air conditioning units installed on the side of a building

Nancy Nehring/iStock

Co-authored with Bhaskar Deol

This year, 2017, marks the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol—the global treaty that eliminated 98 percent of ozone-depleting chemical use around the world. After years of negotiations, Montreal Protocol Parties came together last year to solve another global environmental problem—the HFC gases used to replace ozone-harming chemicals are in fact potent greenhouse gases, which would add 0.5 degrees to global warming by 2100 if left uncontrolled. India played a key role in negotiating the successful Kigali Amendment, which expands the Protocol’s mandate to phase down harmful HFCs.

Building upon historic successes of Montreal Protocol, the Kigali Amendment will avoid the use of HFCs equivalent of more than 70 billion tons of CO2 over the next 35 years, achieving a nearly 90 percent reduction in global warming resulting from unconstrained HFC use by century’s end.


As part of its continued commitment to the Montreal Protocol, India launched a forward-looking plan that will put India well ahead of schedule in phasing out the use of ozone-depleting HCFC gases. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change recently release the plan and discussed its features during an extensive stakeholder discussion in New Delhi. The plan will also put India on track to reduce HFCs, demonstrating India’s continued progress and leadership on this issue.

India’s HCFC Phaseout Management Plan 2 (HPMP2) will run from 2017 through 2023, and focus on reducing HCFC use in foam manufacturing and air-conditioning—two of the largest and fastest growing sectors for HCFC use. By 2023, the plan will help reduce 800 ozone depletion potential (ODP)-weighted tons of HCFCs and avoid 8 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. HPMP stage 2 will keep India ahead of schedule in achieving its commitment of reducing HCFC production and consumption, cutting by almost 50 percent of 2009-10 levels in 2020 and by 60 percent in 2023. 

HPMP2 will allow foam and room AC companies to tap into US $45 million in funding from the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund. HPMP2 will assist more than hundreds of enterprises transition to modern, environmentally superior technologies, with a focus on micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses in foam manufacturing. The foam industry currently uses HCFC-141b, and will primarily switch to ozone-friendly hydrocarbons through support from Montreal Protocol. In addition, HPMP2 is expected to provide training to nearly 16,000 service technicians in the refrigeration industry.  

Under the terms of the amended agreement, India will continue its efforts in phasing down HCFCs, but will also freeze HFC use at 2024 levels, starting reductions in 2028. HPMP2 includes plans by six of India’s largest air conditioner manufacturers to switch to a less harmful refrigerant, R-32. This refrigerant is available widely, and provides significant energy efficiency benefits over alternatives such as R-410A, which has a higher global warming potential. The move puts India well on track to gradually reduce the global warming impact of refrigerants used air conditioning, nearly a decade before any compliance for such reductions would become due under Montreal Protocol.

Plans put forward by industry in both the foam and room air conditioner sectors show that that the transition to ozone-friendly, climate-friendly technologies is well underway and makes business sense. The Montreal Protocol has the institutions, mechanisms and implementing agencies in place to address the challenges faced by smaller businesses and the servicing sector in making the transition, and India’s HPMP2 makes good use of the opportunities offered by the agreement.

With the Kigali Amendment now in place, industry has a clear signal to focus efforts on research and development for new products in sectors where alternatives are emerging or are yet unproven. Meanwhile, the rich ecosystem enabled by Montreal Protocol is already helping Indian companies surge ahead and switch to next-generation technologies today. 

Related Issues

Related Blogs