This paper addresses what has been described as a primary concern related to patents: even if chemical companies in Montreal Protocol Article 5 Parties can develop their own methods of producing low-GWP refrigerant hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) or using them in the products they make, they could be prevented (absent a license) from selling their products at home and in key markets abroad in countries where restrictive patents have been granted to other companies, at least until the time when challenges to patents are decided or these patents expire.
This paper reviews the status of patents granted on HFO-1234yf in automotive air conditioning (AC) in the US, Europe, and China, covering the largest automotive manufacturing regions in the world. This paper primarily focuses on patents on the use of HFO-1234yf in automobiles, as opposed to patents on the manufacture of HFO-1234yf.
As the world warms, the growing use of air conditioners (“ACs”) and other cooling equipment becomes essential for human comfort and public health. In addition, cooling-equipment energy and refrigerant consumption also presents tremendous climate mitigation opportunities. This article highlights China’s “Same Line, Same Standard and Same Quality” policy (“Same-Line Policy” or “Policy”), intended to support economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and address the export challenges that have negatively affected Chinese industries and products on the global market. The Policy encourages manufacturers of consumer and industrial products to sell products within China that were produced for markets outside China according to standards exceeding those for products produced for the Chinese market. The Policy, and the associated information and business platforms that the government established to ensure policy success, aim to improve the domestic economic situation through consumption of products previously destined for export markets but which are not being sold because of the economic downturn during the pandemic. Policies like these, representing a course of action that China’s leadership endorses, can drive changes in Chinese law, including changes that address loopholes in the law that allow environmentally harmful activities to continue. The Same-Line Policy provides an opportunity for global climate mitigation, public health, and other benefits that should not be missed.
The International Energy Agency expects the global stock of room air conditioners (RACs) to triple between today and 2050, with critical implications for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Because China produces approximately 70% of the world’s RACs, it is in a unique position to lead a global transition to higher-efficiency RACs with substantially lower environmental impact. To date, however, Chinese policies have targeted relatively modest RAC efficiency increases. We recommend that China target production of RACs that use low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and are at least as efficient as the most efficient RACs produced today in China or on the global market. Specifically, we recommend that China set minimum energy performance standards for RACs at China annual performance factor (APF) 5.4 in 2025 and China APF 6.9 in 2030. This leadership would provide a longer-term policy signal to RAC manufacturers in China, enabling them to meet the efficiency targets cost-effectively by providing adequate time for investment planning. We project that full implementation of our recommended policy could result in global electricity consumption savings of 74 petawatt-hours, CO2 reductions of 49 billion metric tons, and bill savings of 6 trillion U.S. dollars (cumulative benefits 2020–2050). The policy is viable in China because of its provision of long-term certainty for manufacturers and their demonstrated ability to produce low-GWP RACs with the required efficiencies. Exploiting the parallel transition away from high-GWP refrigerants under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol would provide manufacturing efficiencies and substantial savings opportunities.
The following is a review of the continuing evolution of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, including the Kigali Amendment’s critical role in evolving the Montreal Protocol into a full-fledged climate treaty. Before the Kigali Amendment, the Montreal Protocol controlled about 100 ozone-depleting substances including chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which are powerful greenhouse gases (GHGs), and thus the Montreal Protocol has always contributed significantly to the mitigation of climate change. The Kigali Amendment expanded the scope of the Montreal Protocol to encompass explicitly the phasedown of super GHGs, or those with very high global warming potential in the form of hydrofluorocarbons (or HFCs), although they have only a negligible impact on the ozone layer. We also discuss energy efficiency improvements to cooling equipment, which, because of the opportunity to simultaneously upgrade the energy efficiency of equipment, augments the climate change mitigation potential of the substance phasedowns and reduces related air pollutants by reducing indirect emissions from electricity generation. Phasing down HFCs has the potential to avoid up to 0.5ºC of warming by 2100. Improvements to the energy efficiency of cooling equipment could perhaps double this.
In recent years, air pollution issues have received unprecedented public attention in China. Partly for this reason, the Chinese government has made significant efforts toward reducing air pollution. However, compliance and enforcement will be key to cleaning up the air in China and around the globe. This Article discusses seven specific challenges to achieving effective compliance with and enforcement of the air pollution rules in China. In this regard, global good practices can be useful references for the Chinese government and other stakeholders. Yet such discussions and considerations are only truly useful when viewed and considered within the context of China’s unique rulemaking and governance systems, as well as its cultural background.