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HCFC phase out background

Lubabalo Maweni of the Department of Environmental Affairs submitted the following report on where South Africa is with regards to the phase out of HCFCs.

South Africa is party to both the Vienna Convention for the protection of Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol (herein referred to as the Protocol) requires that parties set out control measures for the phase-out or reduction of ozone depleting substances.

Ozone depleting substances (ODSs) with high ozone depleting potential have more stringent phase-out target dates, for example, the phase-out target for methyl bromide was 2015 and for HCFCs is 2040 with annual consumption percentage reductions from 2009/10.

HCFCs are ODSs that deplete the ozone layer are widely used in refrigeration and air conditioning, foam blowing and solvent applications. Action on HCFCs is important in that these chemicals have an impact on both ozone depletion and climate change. In terms of direct impact, the most commonly-used HCFCs have ozone depleting potentials (ODPs) ranging from 0.02 (HCFC-123) to 0.11 (HCFC-141b) and global warming potentials (GWPs) ranging from 76 (HCFC-123) to 2 270 (HCFC-142b). Equipment can also indirectly cause greenhouse gasses (GHGs) through its consumption of energy.

Prior to CFC phase-out (1 January 2010), the HVAC&R sector was the biggest consumer of CFCs, and today the sector has become one of the primary consumers HCFCs. HCFCs should be completely phased out from non-essential use by 1 January 2040.

To ensure full phase-out of ODSs, South Africa has developed the ‘Regulations Regarding the Phasing-out and Management of Ozone-Depleting Substances’, Regulation 351 of 8 May 2014. These regulations were promulgated by the Minister of Environmental Affairs to monitor and control consumption of ODSs in the country.

The International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) issues a permit upon recommendation by the DEA National Ozone Unit (NOU). The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the NOU and ITAC work together for importation of methyl bromide and issuance of permit(s). In addition, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs and Excise has allocated tariff codes to identify ODSs. The same tariff codes are used by the DEA NOU for recommendations to ITAC and when issuing import and export permits. Therefore, by controlling and monitoring the imports into the country ODS consumption is expected to decrease.

After the first Montreal Protocol controls and regulation on production and consumption of ODSs came into effect in the mid-1990s, instances of smuggling began to evolve. Since then a variety of smuggling methods and routes have emerged. The fundamental methodology of smuggling involves but not limited to either concealing the nature of the material by hiding it completely, mis-declaring, making false claims on the documents, or a combination of these three methods.

In light of the above, Customs and Enforcement Officers Training at both the sea ports of entries and land border posts within the country was identified as a mitigation measure to curb smuggling of ODSs and ensure that consumption targets/limits are not exceeded. The training will enable the relevant officers to identify the controlled substances in order to monitor legal entry and any possible illegal trade that may take place. This will ensure that South Africa meets phase-out targets for ODSs and thus comply with the Montreal Protocol requirements.

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