End Users must be considered in the phasing of ODS

25/09/2012 09:03

Any impact on consumers or end users must be considered when international agreements, conventions or treaties are signed by the government and implemented at the national level.

Speaking at the event to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol on substance that deplete ozone layer, Mrs.Premila Kumar, CEO of Consumer Council of Fiji reminded the stakeholders that Fiji should tread carefully in the phasing of HCFCs in particular R-22 and methyl bromide needed for refrigeration/air conditioning units and for fumigation to control pests in our agricultural sectors respectively.

The impact of phasing out R22 and methyl bromide early will adversely affect our economy and high costs will be passed on to consumers by the traders and service providers.

Under the Montreal Protocol Fiji agreed to phase out Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS) in refrigeration and air conditioning systems by substituting alternative technologies that are more energy efficient.

She highlighted the negative impact of phasing out CFCs 7 years earlier than the agreed international timetable where the consumers had to pay higher costs to switch to other alternatives to ODS.  Arrival of new technologies without availability of appropriate skills, spare parts and correct information is a cost to consumers.

She stated that consumers face problems with counterfeit or home brand fridges and air conditioning units entering our markets that had fake refrigerants and fake energy labels. One glaring example is R600A refrigerant which is used in these refrigerators in Fiji   is banned globally. In this case the consumers’ then have to modify the fridge so that alternative gas can be filled and this comes at a very high cost.

Unfortunately, the early phasing of CFCs did not prepare Fiji well to deal with new technologies that entered our market and these alternative technologies came at a high cost. 

The enforcement agency only focused on controlled substance and not on all refrigerants entering Fiji which made consumers pay a higher price for substandard alternatives to ODS.

Fiji cannot afford to make the same mistake with phasing of R22 and methyl bromide earlier than the international timetable. The least Fiji can do is find the best replacement which is affordable and effective.

Fiji should adhere to an international timetable to phase out R22 and methy bromide without any guilt because Fiji’s contribution to ozone depletion and global warming is insignificant. 

Mrs. Kumar requested the enforcement agency to prepare Fiji’s timetable on phasing of HCFC so that homeowners and businesses are not misinformed about how much longer R-22 will be available to service their refrigerators and air conditioning units.

Fiji must prepare phase-out policy and strategy that is known clearly to consumers and businesses. Such plan can be used to educate end-users to take a wise decision when purchasing air conditioners or refrigerators.

Any policies at the national level must take into consideration environmental, cultural, social and economic impacts to understand the adverse effects on our economy and to our people.