New policy guidelines, capacity building and education, awareness and information dissemination are among key strategies outlined in Barbados’ proposed Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) Phase-Out Management Plan (HPMP).

The details of these proposals were shared with stakeholders in the industry during a consultation at the Savannah Beach Hotel yesterday.

Project Manager Rickardo Marshall, explained Barbados’ undertaking of the project was a national obligation under the global treaty of the Montreal Protocol.

"It would indicate our present production and consumption circumstances and how we would go about meeting our obligations and show what we would do to reduce the need for HCFCs," he said.

The details of the strategies for implementation were outlined Project Consultant, John Telesford, who stated one of the first steps would be to establish a quota system for the importation of HCFCs. "That is the crux of managing your consumption or importation," he noted, adding that it was an important part of the phase out strategy.

He explained the quota system would involve a gradual reduction in the amount of HCFCs used in the country from 2013 until they are completely phased-out.

Mr. Telesford also told stakeholders that raising public education and awareness would also be critical in the effort to shift market demand and create "a feel for alternatives to HCFCs," and standards for labeling refrigerants and refrigerant-consuming equipment.

He explained that it was essential for stakeholders to know what was available, stressing "We need an awareness programme". The Consultant pointed out that the programme should create an awareness of the impacts of the various refrigerants; an understanding of the phase-out plan through targeted seminars and general public sensitisation campaigns employing the use of fliers, brochures and promos.

Meanwhile, the labelling of refrigerants is another strategic component outlined in the proposed plan. "We will develop a standard regime to consider the labelling of refrigerants and refrigerant-consuming equipment that would allow you to be able to identify what refrigerants are coming, [and] what refrigerant-consuming equipment is coming in," he said.

The Consultant added that the establishment of incentives or disincentives to encourage the use of alternatives, or to reduce the demand for HCFC-consuming equipment was another suggested strategy.

He added that recommendations were also made for the inclusion of green air conditioning designs into the approval process of public buildings, to ensure the design of the air conditioning systems did not need any type of refrigerant that was not environmentally friendly.

However, Mr. Telesford told those present that the shift from HCFCs to alternative refrigerants also created a need for technicians to be trained how to handle the new gases.

This, he said, could be done through capacity building by developing a certification and licensing system for technicians. "This is to ensure that the persons who are dealing with new and alternative equipment can speak to the safety of issues, [for instance] in dealing with hydrocarbons in looking at different techniques that they need to employ," he underlined.

He added that training should also be provided for customs officers to increase their ability to monitor and evaluate the state of the trade on the island.

Mr. Telesford added that the research and development and technology transfer of the proposed strategy would see the creation of a testing platform.

However, he made it clear that having adequate regulations and policies in place was an important part of the process.

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