If leaked or emitted into the atmosphere, the fluorocarbon refrigerant gases contained in most air conditioners and refrigerators can be extremely harmful to the environment. In particular, they can damage the Ozone Layer and contribute to global warming.
It is so serious in fact, that all 196 countries have signed an agreement called the Montreal Protocol, to agree to a world-wide phase out of ozone depleting substances.
The Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) Licence scheme is the Australian Government's response to its obligations under the Montreal Protocol.
Did you know 1kg of the commonly used refrigerant gas R410a, has the same greenhouse impact as two tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of running your car for six months!
That's why Australia has specific laws to help protect the environment and minimise any further damage to the atmosphere caused by refrigerant gas. And that is why the ARC Licence scheme is a vital to achieving a better quality environment for Australia.
Is it working?
Since 2003, the work of ARC-licensed businesses and technicians has contributed to 24.37 Megatonnes of CO2-e direct emissions reductions.
The ARC licence scheme will continue to provide significant direct and indirect emissions savings over the next two decades, with further direct emissions reductions estimated at 58.02 Mt CO2 projected to 2030.*
In addition, the Antarctic Ozone Hole is showing strong signs of recovery after years of dangerous depletion, according to a major new paper in the influential journal Science. Experts say that this improvement is directly related to international environmental initiatives such as the Montreal Protocol – which was the catalyst for the Australian Government initiating the ARC licence scheme in 2005. The ozone layer shields life from cancer causing solar rays, as well as protecting crops and other plants. Without the Montreal Protocol, two million extra cases of skin cancer would have occurred each year by 2030 and levels of ozone-damaging compounds could have increased tenfold by 2050. (2014 United Nations Report - Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014.)
Australia’s refrigerant controls ‘world’s best’ according to US study
Australia has better regulations and systems in place to manage environmentally damaging refrigerants than any other country according to a study by the US Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) released in 2016. The study looked at Australia’s environmental product stewardship of refrigerants from import, licensing, compliance and destruction.
In the study’s comparison and ranking of programs, Australia came out with the highest overall rankings taking into account factors such as – effectiveness, cost/burden on industry, and stakeholder engagement. This was in comparison to countries such as Canada, California, Japan, the UK and the United States, as well as China, Brazil and the European Union.
*Expert Group, Assessment of environmental impacts from the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989, April 2015.