International agreement to ban the production and usage of polluting refrigerant gases entered into force
29 enero 2019


Climate change. The Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol entered into force January 1. The Protocol provides a general framework for the protection of the ozone layer through the promotion of measures to control the production and consumption of toxic substances. The Amendment focuses, in particular, on reducing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by more than 80% over the next 30 years.

According to a United Nations report, the second largest source of HFC emissions are commercial refrigeration systems used to ensure food safety. In recent years, Latin America and the Caribbean have witnessed a rapid and exponential increase in livestock production, mainly beef, pork and chicken. As production increases, so do methane (CH4) and HFC emissions. The latter as a consequence of the expansion of refrigerators to preserve meats.

Official estimates indicate that the global warming potential of HFCs in 100 years will fluctuate between 53 and 14800. They also claim that HFCs will be responsible for the emission of between 3.5 and 8.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 if no action is taken. It is before this alarming spectre that several countries of the region chose to ratify the Amendment that sets reduction targets for the consumption of HFCs. Consumption of these substances is expected to reach 15% by 2036.

Next Steps

The amendment entered into force on January 1, as foreseen in its text. In addition, it met the requirement of at least 20 ratifications. Among the States that have incorporated this instrument into their national legislation are Ecuador (2017), Uruguay (2018), Mexico (2018) and Chile (2018). It is expected that in the course of 2019, the Latin American countries that have not yet ratified it will begin to work in their respective congresses to approve the agreement and, as such, gradually promote the incorporation of practices and technologies that reduce HFC emissions and maximize energy efficiency, mainly in the refrigeration sector.