Welcome to the UNIDO Montreal Protocol Newsletter!

We are excited to present you the very first issue of our quarterly newsletter.

UNIDO’s Montreal Protocol Division (MPD) is proud to be part of one of the most successful and effective environmental treaties ever adopted. For nearly 30 years, UNIDO has supported the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in developing and implementing innovative projects to phase-out ozone-depleting substances (ODS), in compliance with the Montreal Protocol. As we step into a new realm of challenges and opportunities with the Kigali Amendment, we are launching this newsletter as a means by which to share our work with all our partners. 

Here’s a glimpse of what’s in store in this first issue: an opinion piece on the evolution of the refrigeration and air conditioning industry, an interview with our National Ozone Unit in Montenegro and some fun brain teasers on counterfeit refrigerants and HFC baseline calculations.

Look out for the upcoming issues for updates on our projects around the world, future events, and insights from our partners on the ground. We also invite you to submit your questions to us at UNIDO and receive a response in the next issue.

Have a good read and stay healthy!

Your MPD Team


Rodrigo Serpa
Industrial Development Officer at UNIDO’s Montreal Protocol Division, answered some questions on counterfeit refrigerants. 


Interview with Tatjana Boljević
National Ozone Officer of the National Ozone Unit in Montenegro


Keeping One’s Cool in Warming Climate
An opinion piece by Ole Nielsen, Chief of UNIDO’s Montreal Protocol Division on the refrigeration and air conditioning industry and its progress on climate action


Calculate the annual consumption of HFCs in CO2 equivalents:

Country A imports 60 tonnes of HFC-xxx (with 20 tonnes imported for feedstock uses) and 40 tonnes of HFC-yyy (with 10 tonnes imported for feedstock uses). Country A does not produce, export or destroy any HFCs.

HFC-xxx (CxHxFx) has a GWP of 1,260 and HFC-yyy (CyHyFy) has a GWP of 520.

What is the annual consumption of HFCs in Country A (in tonnes CO2 –equivalent):

Correct! the answer is:

Wrong, the answer is:

b) 66,000
Consumption = Production + (total imports – imports for feedstock) – (total exports – exports for feedstock – exports to non-parties)= 0 + (96,400 –  30,400) – (0 – 0 – 0) = 66,000 tonnes CO2 –equivalent



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Refrigerant cylinders tell us a lot about what’s inside them. Spot 5 differences between these two cylinders – one containing a genuine refrigerant and one with a counterfeit refrigerant.

Hint: Read the ‘Ask UNIDO’ section for expert advice!

This contains a genuine refrigerant!

1. Colour: 134a should always be in a light blue cylinder
2. Brand name: this is a registered trademark
3. Refrigerant name: 134a is correct. It is a single substance, not a blend.
4. CAS registry number: this is an important identifier
5. Weight: 30lb

This looks like a counterfeit refrigerant!

1. Colour: 134a should be in a light blue cylinder, not a green one
2. Brand name: there is no trademark to indicate a registered brand
3. Refrigerant name: 134a NOT 134A. It is a single substance, not a blend.
4. CAS registry number: this important identifier is missing
5. Weight: 50lb


You Ask, We Answer!​

Rodrigo Serpa, Industrial Development Officer at UNIDO’s Montreal Protocol Division, answered some questions on counterfeit refrigerants.

What is a counterfeit refrigerant and why is it a problem?

Let’s start by defining a counterfeit refrigerant. Simply put: It is a gas sold and labelled as a genuine refrigerant, but it does not meet the standards, characteristics or purity levels of the genuine refrigerant. For example, a cylinder of gas labelled R-22 or R-134a could contain contaminated refrigerant or a refrigerant diluted with blends of substances, some recovered, some of poor quality and some with major safety concerns. Once you charge a refrigerating system with this counterfeit refrigerant, maybe you will find that it is difficult to achieve the performance parameters and the required cooling, maybe the lubricant in the compressor is not compatible with the counterfeit refrigerant leading to damage of the compressor. Some of the consequences are not easy to spot at first sight, but in the long term the results are negatively impacting cooling performance, energy efficiency and lifetime of the refrigerating system.

How can I identify a counterfeit refrigerant?

There are some basic tips like ASHRAE codes and colours for cylinders.

For instance, the colour code for some common refrigerants is:

HCFC-22: light green

R-134a: light sky blue

R-404A: orange

The name of the gas should also be correctly labelled on the cylinder. For single substances, lower-case letters are used e.g. R-134a or R-600a, so if you find a cylinder labelled HFC-134A this could indicate a counterfeit refrigerant. For blends, capital letters are used e.g. R-410A, R-407B or R-404A. In line with this, R-404a or R-407b is incorrect labelling and could also indicate a counterfeit refrigerant.

The cylinder should also have a trade name, manufacturer name, CAS number and UN number, among other identifiers.

UNIDO developed a brochure both in English and Spanish on this matter, which can be found on the UNIDO Website There is also a software available for translations to other languages.

What is your advice for countries on reducing the trade of counterfeits?

Awareness is key. This issue of counterfeit refrigerants should be made known to technicians, importers and National Ozone Units. We at UNIDO have introduced the subject in training courses on good refrigeration practices. We are also working directly with National Ozone Units and customs officers, with the support of refrigeration distributors, to train national experts on detecting counterfeits and illegal trade within their own market.

We are also supporting countries in developing legislation on this matter, in cooperation with custom officers and end users. Demonstration activities on counterfeit refrigerants have brought excellent results so far and should be replicated. One simple idea would be to hang up posters with the information from our brochures in refrigerant selling shops and customs authorities, so that the information is readily available to all who need it. Please help us raise awareness on this matter, so that we can keep our cooling systems running without breakdowns, safely and efficiently!

Is there a technical question on your mind? We would love to answer it in our next issue!
Please use the contact form below to send us your question!


Interview with Tatjana Boljević

National Ozone Officer of the National Ozone Unit in Montenegro on her experiences with the enabling activities and the ratification of the Kigali Amendment.

What advice would you give to other countries that are still in the process of implementing activities?

I would tell them that it is very important to include as many national stakeholders as possible within the Enabling Activities (EA) project and explain that by ratifying the Kigali Amendment everyone can benefit. My main advice to other countries is: “Be persistent in your path towards the ratification of the Kigali amendment”.

Which of the project activities do you feel provided the biggest impact?

One of the project activities focussed on capacity building and strengthening cooperation. The project provided an opportunity to develop and strengthen communication with different government and non-government institutions and stakeholders. Institutions such as government ministries (responsible for the environment, trade, economy, energy efficiency, etc.), environmental inspections, customs, standardization bodies and other relevant stakeholders such as the RAC industry play a crucial role in the implementation of the Kigali Amendment. Furthermore, they will be crucial in the process of preparing and implementing the HFC phase-down strategy. In this sense, the project provided a solid foundation and strong partnerships to enable future work in this area.

What were the main challenges you faced in implementing the Enabling Activities project in Montenegro?

The activities under EA projects can differ from country to country but in the end they all share the same goal – the ratification of the Kigali Amendment. In this regard, the main challenge could be the process of ratification. Fortunately, in Montenegro there weren’t any problems in ratifying. Through the further ratification of the Kigali Amendment, Montenegro reconfirmed its readiness to take further steps towards the protection of the ozone layer and the preventing the negative impacts of climate change. The Enabling Activities project started on 1 January 2018 and within the same year, the Parliament of Montenegro, adopted the Kigali Amendment at a session held on 28December 2018. On 25 April 2019, Montenegro officially became the 70th country in the world to ratify the Kigali Amendment.

What would you say are the benefits of partnering with UNIDO?

The full implementation of the Montreal Protocol in Montenegro started in 2007 after the approval of the Country Programme (CP) and terminal phase-out management plan (TPMP). This was one year after Montenegro proclaimed its independence. Since 2007, in cooperation and with the support of UNIDO, Montenegro successfully implemented all Montreal Protocol activities and fulfilled all protocol provision requirements. During the implementation period, UNIDO provided support in all aspects of the project, and cooperation and communication took place with mutual understanding.

How will you continue to build on the momentum of the Enabling Activities project?

At the end of 2019, Montenegro introduced the important Law for Protection against the Adverse Impacts of Climate Change which provided a basis for the introduction of a quota system for HFCs. The quota system for HFC imports will be established through the adoption of by-laws and ozone protection issues will be further elaborated. This will contribute to the better implementation of Montreal Protocol provisions in further compliance with EU regulations.

Amid the current Covid-19 outbreak, how are you adapting to working from home and what advise would you give to others?

Due to the current COVID 19 outbreak and recognition of the importance of health, all meetings are postponed until further notice. The Nature and Environmental Protection Agency, as many institutions in the country, has taken certain steps in line with the current situation, but still remains accessible to all interested parties. Although most of my colleagues and I work from home, our experience and practice give us the ability to handle ongoing activities, taking care that no one is denied of answers, permits, etc.


Keeping One’s Cool in Warming Climate

An opinion piece by Ole Nielsen, Chief of UNIDO’s Montreal Protocol Division on the refrigeration and air conditioning industry and its progress on climate action

There is no disputing that the humble refrigerator and air conditioner have made the modern world a lot more comfortable, and in the case of the refrigerator- expanded our gastronomic horizons and prevented countless cases of food poisoning and food waste. What air conditioning and refrigerators lack in their ability to excite the public’s attention, is rapidly being replaced with a healthy respect (and alarm) for their ability to both keep things cool, but at the same time be major contributors to global warming. Some refrigerants possess a massive global warming potential, with an effect that is thousands of times more powerful than CO2 in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere. With soaring global temperatures exacerbated by climate change and an exploding global middle class with the appetite and the means to now purchase these appliances, the humble refrigerator and air conditioner are demanding the world’s attention like never before.

From experimentation, to ubiquitous, to indispensable status

For eons, and on almost every continent, humankind has been experimenting with the development of devices that can keep our food and ourselves cool. Thus, the devices you see today represent the efforts that have been undertaken over the centuries, and (almost) perfected in the modern age. They have made billions of lives around the world easier, to the extent that they are now ubiquitous, and in many cases-indispensable in many households and businesses around the world.

Air conditioning and refrigeration mean many things to different people, with diverse applications. For small holder farmers in developing countries, a cold room as part of a cold chain means being able to conserve their produce for longer, allowing them greater market access and thus a higher income. For health clinics and hospitals, refrigeration means that they are able to store lifesaving blood supplies, vaccines and medicine.

To the average person, grocery stores and restaurants, refrigeration enables a longer shelf life for perishables such as dairy, meat and many fruit and vegetables, in turn enabling many livelihoods, international trade and expanded, more diverse diets. Air conditioners are vital for public health, helping to protect vulnerable members of society from heat stroke and heat related illness in times of high temperatures. Thus, both appliances represent diverse and numerous economic, environmental and social benefits. However, the journey hasn’t ended with the seemingly endless utility of cooling equipment; there is more “tinkering” required in order to completely mitigate their impact on the climate.

Cooling us and our food, but warming our climate

“The global stock of air conditioners in buildings will grow to 5.6 billion by 2050, up from 1.6 billion today – which amounts to 10 new ACs sold every second for the next 30 years. Using air conditioners and electric fans to stay cool already accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world – or 10% of all global electricity consumption today.”

-the International Energy Agency (IEA)

In a world warming due to climate change, the demand for air conditioning and refrigerated goods will soar alongside a burgeoning global middle class. However, the statistics are already sobering without factoring in the projected growth in these areas.

Going into the future, the IEA has predicted that global energy demand from air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050, requiring new electricity capacity the equivalent to the combined electricity capacity of the United States, the European Union countries and Japan today. It also expects air conditioning use to be the second-largest source of global electricity demand growth after the industry sector, and the strongest driver for buildings by 2050.

Good news in an often bleak landscape

It’s not all bad news, though, the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning industry (RAC) has identified natural refrigerants to use as alternatives to mainstream refrigerants that contribute to global warming. Natural refrigerants are not a threat to the ozone layer or GHGs, but they are considered to be somewhat dangerous, as most are highly flammable or toxic.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) announced in May 2019 the approval of an increase in the charge limit for A3 (flammable) refrigerants as well as a rise in the charge limit for A2 and A2L (low flammable) refrigerants in self-contained commercial refrigeration cabinets. This might not mean anything to people outside of the industry, but its ramifications are significant. The new standard will pave the way for the widespread uptake of efficient and cost-effective climate-friendly commercial refrigeration. This also sets the stage for wider efficiency improvements in the broader RAC industry.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO): Keeping our cool while forging ahead with climate action

UNIDO’s activities under the international environmental agreement, the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, are creating a significant climate impact. We are doing this in part by helping parties to the Montreal Protocol to implement national and sector-wide ozone depleting substances (ODS) phase-out plans; carrying out the conversion of production lines; and supporting energy efficiency improvements in the foam and RAC sector. The greenhouse-gas emissions reduction achieved to-date by our projects is approximately 340 million tonnes of CO2-eq, using 1990 as a baseline. This is equivalent to the EU-15’s target for the period 2008-2012, also equivalent to the combined target of Germany, France and the United Kingdom for 2020.

Although the Montreal Protocol began with the phase-out of ozone depleting substances, this has now expanded to address a number of diverse environmental goals, including reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency in the RAC sector.

Adopted in October 2016, The Kigali Amendment was the first modification to the Montreal Protocol to monitor substances that did not contribute to ozone depletion. The Kigali Amendment aims for the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by cutting their production and consumption. Given their zero impact on the depletion of the ozone layer, HFCs are currently used as replacements of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs); however, they are powerful greenhouse gases.

With the Kigali Amendment, which entered into force on the 1 January 2019, the Montreal Protocol will be an even more powerful instrument against global warming. The goal is to achieve over 80% reduction in HFC consumption by 2047. The impact of the amendment will avoid up to 0.4 °C increase in global temperature by the end of the century.

UNIDO: Supporting innovative green design towards a circular economy

When talking about greening design in the context of the circular economy, the focus is often what industrialised countries are achieving. However, an understated area has been the area of greening design as part of a circular economy in lower income countries. In this regard, UNIDO has been supporting manufacturers in a full product redesign to find climate-friendly alternative refrigerants.

One successful outcome of this work has been the work of the Brazilian company Eletrofrio. With the support of Brazil’s Ministry of Environment and UNIDO, Eletrofrio has developed a new chiller technology using propane as an alternative refrigerant. Propane has zero ozone-depletion potential and very low global warming potential. Propane-based refrigeration technology is also up to 30% more energy efficient.

We are also implementing projects that provide training in good service practices, as well as the provision of necessary equipment to reduce refrigerant leakages. Beyond this, we are focussing on supporting innovative, service-oriented business models, whereby refrigerants are viewed, not as consumables, but as a valuable asset that should be kept and recovered at the end of a product’s life.


In addition to increasing efforts to make cooling appliances more efficient and to mitigate their global warming impact, it is imperative to pursue a holistic approach, whereby (in the case of air conditioning) buildings and cities are designed to withstand higher and more variable temperatures, which help to buffer cities from the additional heat caused by increased use of RAC. In other words, rapid and fundamental changes in the RAC industry should also occur in tandem and in the context of sustainable cities, which utilise green infrastructure, mitigating the need to rely solely on air conditioning as the only option available in dealing with extreme heat. This is particularly important for those populations still unable to afford these appliances.

This article was first published on the Green Industry Platform in November 2019:


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