For a small, land-locked country in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is taking big strides forward in their commitment to fight climate change and strengthen global environmental protection. On June 4, 2020, the Kyrgyz Republic ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
The Montreal Protocol was created to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODS) to protect Earth’s ozone layer. The Kigali Amendment was adopted by 197 parties on October 15, 2016, in Kigali, Rwanda. The amendment calls for the phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are organic compounds used as refrigerants in cooling equipment that became popular as an alternative to ODS such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
Though HFCs are not directly harmful to the ozone layer, they are a powerful greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide. The amendment aims to achieve 80% reduction in HFCs by 2047. With global cooperation this plan of action could prevent up to a 0.4 °C increase in global temperature by the end of the century.
The ratification of the Kigali Amendment by the Kyrgyz Republic will require collaboration between the government and the cooling industry. This provides opportunity for capacity building in the refrigeration servicing sector with potential benefits for equipment manufacturers and owners including modernizing technology that can reduce energy costs and the frequency of breakdowns.
According to Mr. Mars Amanaliev, the Kigali Amendment is “a new stage of development. [Kyrgyzstan] prematurely completed the withdrawal of HCFCs in 2020, but HFCs are being actively implemented instead. It is important to start work on reducing HFC consumption in a timely manner and not repeat previous mistakes when replacing technologies from CFCs to HCFCs.”
Mars Amanaliev is the Head of the Ozone Center of Kyrgyzstan. The Ozone Center was established in 2002 and for the last 18 years has been coordinating the phase-out of ODS from the Kyrgyz Republic. The Ozone Center is responsible for the implementation of the State Program, works closely with the Refrigeration and Air Conditioner (RAC) Association, assists the business community by building technical capacity in the country, and raises public awareness about the dangers of UV radiation.
Currently the Ozone Center ensures that recommended actions to protect the ozone layer are being successfully implemented in the republic. This includes completion of three state programs that effectively removed all ODS groups (CFCs, HCFCs, halons, methyl bromide and others) from the country in 2020 and introduced the provisions on the protection of the ozone layer into national environmental legislation.
Eighteen years of previous experience has provided the Kyrgyz Republic with the guidance needed to accomplish the goals of the Kigali Amendment. Next steps include the implementation of national legislation in the climate sector of Kyrgyzstan, extracting the maximum benefit for the country from attracting investments, strengthening personnel, creating a foundation for the preparation and implementation of new green technologies, increasing energy efficiency in the cooling technology sectors, and minimizing the country’s import dependence from synthetic refrigerants.
The Kigali Amendment will face some obstacles along the way. Barriers to the successful implementation of the Kigali Amendment include expense (some new technologies on natural refrigerants are more expensive compared to ones currently in place), changing safety standards, illegal trade prevention and energy efficiency policy. Solutions to these obstacles include “enhanced international cooperation in the transfer of modern technology, harmonization of new standards, digitalization of the economy, and synergy with other conventions,” according to Amanaliev.
Ratifying the Kigali Amendment will contribute to a gradual reduction in the consumption of HFCs in refrigeration systems and climatic equipment. For the Kyrgyz Republic, the replacement of HFCs with alternative technologies represents the progress of a larger environmental strategy to strengthen administrative barriers to the circulation of chemicals, implement national legislation in the climate sector, create a foundation for a growing green economy, increase energy efficiency, eliminate environmental damage and contribute to combating climate change at an international scale.