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NZ to ratify Kigali in late 2019

New regulations and permit schemes in the works

New Zealand environment minister David Parker has announced that the country will delay its ratification of the Kigali Amendment by 12 months.

The year-long hiatus is to allow New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to carry out the required health and safety amendments before ratification is carried out. It will also allow businesses to apply for the required new permits, as well as get a response to their applications, before the HFC phase-down starts. 

As a result of the delay, New Zealand will ratify on 3 October 2019 – allowing for a suitable regulatory structure to be instated – and the phase-down of HFCs and regulation of import and export will commence on 1 January 2020. The Kigali Amendment, in other countries that have already ratified it, will otherwise come into effect on 1 January 2019.

The NZ parliamentary cabinet, having agreed to ratify the Amendment, is now engaged with the development of the required permit schemes and regulations. For example, a new scheme for HFC importation has been created that offers “grandfathered” and “special” permits. 

Companies that imported HFCs between 2015 and 2017 will be eligible for the grandfathered permit, which will allocate 80 per cent of the upper limit of HFC consumption to them during the phase-down process. Other businesses will be granted a special permit, which will grant access to the remaining 20 per cent of HFC consumption during that time. 

Permits will be available from the NZ Environmental Protection Authority in early 2019, for imports commencing on 1 January 2020. It’s also stated that all imports will be in CO2 equivalent, rather than metric tonnes, to allow for more low-global warming potential HFCs to be imported.

The parliament’s Environment Select Committee also recently called for public submissions regarding the Kigali Amendment, in which individuals and businesses could put forward their thoughts on ratification. Entry closed on 30 August and those received will be used to help the committee examine and tailor legislation necessitated by the Amendment. 

All crucial aspects are expected to be finalised and subject to official approval in due course. Rapid decisions on this front are, of course, required in order to allow businesses to plan for how their operations may need to change.

An update published by New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment stated: “The Minister is very committed to ratifying the Amendment and supporting global action on HFCs and has not taken this decision to delay lightly, but is focused on ensuring New Zealand has a safe and effective transition away from HFCs.   

“Both Ministers want to avoid unnecessary stockpiling of HFCs and you can expect to receive communication from Minister Parker on this issue, we will be seeking your support and co-operation on this.”

The Kigali Amendment is designed to bring about a global phase-down of HFCs and has now been ratified more than 40 countries. The Amendment itself is part of the overarching Montreal Protocol, which itself aims to phase out substances that are known to deplete the ozone layer. 

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