Dumping of obsolete air conditioners undermines development and climate goals

Inefficient air conditioners (ACs) dumped into developing and developed countries overload energy resources, undermining national and local efforts to manage energy, environment, health, and climate goals, according to a new analysis published in the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum this week.

Environmental dumping, is “the practice of exporting products to another country or territory that: 1) Contain hazardous substances; 2) Have environmental performance lower than is in the interest of consumers or that is contrary to the interests of the local and global commons, or; 3) Can undermine the ability of the importing country to fulfill international environmental treaty commitments”.

The analysis elaborates on powerful policy tools to halt the needless dumping of ACs, wasting energy and leaking obsolete high global warming potential refrigerants scheduled for phaseout or phasedown under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The authors include a toolkit of antidumping measures that can be implemented consistent with international trade agreements, and consistent with the principles of non-discrimination, transparency, and notice.

“Inefficient ACs that are dumped into developing countries are energy vampires that steal the energy developing countries need for development,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD), and co-author of the report. “Stopping environmental dumping is critical to achieving the Montreal Protocol’s stretch goal of avoiding up to 1°C of warming by the end of the century. Half of the 1°C of avoided warming will come from the fast phasedown of HFCs, and half from the improvement of energy efficiency of cooling equipment, which will also provide $2.9 trillion in investment, fuel, and operating costs by 2050.”

Authored by six experts at Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development the article draws on decades of experience in Montreal Protocol negotiations, international and foreign economics, and law and policy.

“Countries can choose the combination of anti-dumping tools that is in their best national interest of access to superior technology, affordable AC ownership costs with money saved on electricity spent locally, and climate protection that maintains sustainable prosperity,” said Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, IGSD Director of Research, and co-author of the report.

In its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, the IPCC has noted antidumping measures are available tools for countries to enhance energy efficiency, which is critical in the broader fight to avoid the worst effects of global climate change.

“Where product phaseouts result in the dumping of obsolete products in countries that can least afford it, there is clearly opportunity for government and corporate leadership in China, Africa, and elsewhere, toward a different, more sustainable path,” said Richard Ferris, IGSD Senior Counsel, and co-author of the report.

IGSD is offering assistance to the Montreal Protocol Parties on the effective use of these powerful new tools.

“Defining the Legal and Policy Framework to Stop the Dumping of Environmentally Harmful Products” is available for download here.