By Grant Laidlaw

Understanding more around the Montreal Protocol and its amendments since its founding in the context of phase-down.

Daniel asks:  Hi Grant, what is the latest situation with regards to the phasing down of refrigerants in South Africa? There is talk that R410a is to be phased down, but it has only recently replaced R22. As an air conditioning technician this leaves me wondering. Your input will be much appreciated, thanks.

Hi Daniel, I suppose we will have to give this some context so a good place to start is with the Montreal protocol.

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the Montreal Protocol) is an international agreement made in 1987. It was designed to stop the production and import of ozone depleting substances and reduce their concentration in the atmosphere to help protect the earth’s ozone layer.

The Montreal Protocol sits under the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (the Vienna Convention). The Vienna Convention was adopted in 1985 following international discussion of scientific discoveries in the 1970s and 1980s highlighting the adverse effect of human activity on ozone levels in the stratosphere, and the discovery of the ‘ozone hole’. Its objectives are to promote cooperation on the adverse effects of human activities on the ozone layer.

16 September is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. It celebrates the anniversary of the day the Montreal Protocol came into effect.

The Montreal Protocol sets binding progressive phase out obligations for both developed and developing countries for all the major ozone depleting substances, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and less damaging transitional chemicals such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). In 2016 the Montreal Protocol also became responsible for setting binding progressive phase down obligations for the 18 main hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The Montreal Protocol has been strengthened through six amendments, which have brought forward phase out schedules and added new substances to the list of substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol. The amendments are:

  • London 1990
  • Copenhagen 1992
  • Vienna 1995
  • Montreal 1997
  • Beijing 1999
  • Kigali 2016

In addition to helping to protect and restore the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol has also produced other significant environmental benefits. Most notably, the phase out of ozone depleting substances, which are often also high global warming gases, has benefitted the global climate by reducing the amount of greenhouse gas going into the atmosphere.

Daniel, this brings us to the Kigali Amendment on HFC phase-down and to your question around R410a. The current generation of refrigerants, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) including R410a, when released to the atmosphere, have significant global warming potential (GWP). Unlike CFCs, HFCs do not have an effect on the ozone, but their potency as greenhouse gases does not make them a suitable long-term alternative to CFCs.

While the global HCFC phase-out process is progressing, the most common alternatives to HCFCs that have zero ODP values – hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), unsaturated HFCs (HFOs), hydrocarbons (HCs), ammonia or CO₂ – are gradually being phased in. Due to their specific features like non-flammability, chemical inertness, relatively low cost and excellent performance as refrigerants, foam blowing agents, aerosol propellants or solvents, HFCs have become the major replacements for HCFCs over the last decade. In 2015, an estimated 525 000 metric tons of HFCs were produced and consumed globally. These refrigerants are used in a wide variety of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC&R) equipment.

At talks in Kigali, Rwanda, in October 2016, 196 countries that are parties to the Montreal Protocol reached an agreement that will see 85% of the world’s HFCs phased out.

Aiming at protecting the climate and the ozone layer, the Kigali Amendment, the Montreal Protocol will be a powerful instrument against global warming.

The amendment entered into force on 1 January 2019. The impact of the amendment will avoid up to 0.5 °C increase in global temperature. In August 2019, the Republic of South Africa ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The goal is to achieve 80% reduction in HFC consumption by 1 January 2045. The impact of the amendment will avoid up to 0.5 °C increase in global temperature by the end of the century.

The phase-down schedule is detailed below (for developing countries such as South Africa the schedule to follow is highlighted).

Daniel, so there you have it, South Africa will phase down HFCs as can be seen from the schedule above, remembering that this schedule may be amended at the next sitting.


  • ACRA
  • Kigali in action
  • Department of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

Thank you for all your questions. Send your problems (and sometimes your creative solutions) to with ‘Solutions Page’ in the subject line. You may include pictures. 

Non-Article 5 parties

Article 5 parties – Group 1

(South Africa)

Article 5 parties – Group 2


Average HFC for 2011–2013 + 15% of HCFC baseline*


Average HFC for 2020–2022 + 65% of HCFC baseline


Average HFC for 2024–2026 + 65% of HCFC baseline



January 1, 2024


January 1, 2028

10*% reduction

January 1, 2019

10% reduction

January 1, 2029

10% reduction

January 1, 2032

40*% reduction

January 1, 2024

30% reduction

January 1, 2035

20% reduction

January 1, 2037

70% reduction

January 1, 2029

50% reduction

January 1, 2040

30% reduction

January 1, 2042

80% reduction

January 1, 2034

80% reduction

January 1, 2045

85% reduction

January 1, 2047

85% reduction January 1, 2036