Kenyans might be forced to fork out more for electrical appliances that use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) like freezers, fridges and air conditioners following the government’s decision yesterday to ascent to the Kigali Amendment on the Montreal Protocol on the Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Under the Kigali protocol, developing nations are mandated to replace the use of cheap HFCs with more expensive hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs).
“The depositing of these instruments of accession is not only vital in reinforcing Kenya’s climate credentials, but is also critical in Kenya’s advocacy for rules-based ethos in the management of international affairs,” Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua said in a statement.
According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, HFOs are ten times more expensive than HFCs. As such, the move is expected to impact the cost of select appliances starting 2024 when the directive will come to effect.
A photo of a Kenyan using a fridge
Difference between HFC and HFO
HFCs are considered to be powerful greenhouse gases. Environmental organisations point out that they are nearly 2,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming potential.
Under the Kigali Amendment, it was agreed that developed nations would start phasing out the use of HFCs from 2019 while developing nations would kick start the process in 2024.
The United Nations (UN) stated that should the use of HFCs not be tamed, it would raise global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius this century.
Apart from being used in refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners, HFCs are also used in aerosol sprays, building insulation and and extinguishing systems.
HFOs just like HFCs are made up of hydrogen, fluorine and carbon but unlike HFCs, they have zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and low Global Warming Potential (GWP).
This has made HFOs be considered as more environmentally-friendly than HFCs.
HFOs do not trap heat in the atmosphere and do not contribute to global warming.
Impact in Kenya
The East African region is the leading manufacturer of freezers and refrigerators in the African continent.
The implementation of the Kigali Amendment will see production cost rise significantly which is expected to be passed on to the consumer.
Although the buying price will shoot up, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions remarks that it will be beneficial to the consumer in the long term.
This is because electrical appliances using HFOs are considered to be more energy efficient than those using HFCs.
Delegates at the African Climate Summit event at KICC, September 5, 2023.