For several decades, the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer has been a major concern to scientists and policymakers, especially given the health implications such as skin cancer, eye cataracts among others. As a result, the Montreal Protocol, the first international treaty to regulate the production and use of ozone depleting chemicals was adopted and subsequently came into force in 1989 with Ghana as one of the signatories.
Ghana through various interventions such as formulation of policies/regulations on the importation and usage of some refrigerants with high Global Warming Potential (GWP); and institutional and individual capacity building activities, has achieved the target of attaining the 35% consumption reduction of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons.
To consolidate the success achieved and continue to meet other obligations under the Protocol, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to organize series of trainings for technicians in the refrigeration sector. This is to sensitize the technicians on how to handle and use energy efficiency and environmentally friendly refrigerants to reduce the associated impacts on the ozone to reduce climate change.
‘’We have realized that the most common refrigerant used in air conditioners is a significant ozone depleting chemical with climate threat potential. We are building the capacity of the technicians with the support of UNDP, to enable them effectively adopt the use of alternative refrigerants to protect the environment’’, stated Mr. Emmanuel Quansah, Acting Director of Climate Change and Ozone at the EPA.
This initiative by the UNDP and the EPA is building the capacity of the technicians to transition from the use of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC 22) which is an ozone depleting chemical to a more environmentally friendly chemical, Hydrocarbon (HC 290), with the aim of phasing out the HCFC 22 eventually.
The training is particularly significant as it also provides a pathway for technicians by preparing them for the certification process regardless of their educational qualification. This will help streamline activities in the refrigeration sector. For Solomon Quaye, a beneficiary of previous trainings, it provides an opportunity to revolutionize his air conditioning business for sustainability.
‘’The training has significantly impacted my operations over the years. Following the training, I was able to acquire certification which has now allowed me to transition into the use of HC 290. Beyond the positive impact I am making on the environment, this chemical is cost effective, so I am able to make extra income from using the right chemical’’, noted Solomon Quaye, a technician at Quick Mechanical and Engineering Services.
Eric Qwamina Arhin, a technician at Excellent Cooling Technologies also recounts how the training did not only help him transition to the environmentally friendly chemical for the good of the planet and people, but it has also equipped him with the knowledge on how to ensure the safety of his workers when using the recommended chemical: HC 290 .
‘’The environmentally friendly chemical is highly flammable, one of the important lessons I got from the training was on effective containment measures of the chemicals. So, since 2020, I have been able to apply the safety measures I leant from the training to keep my staff and clients safe’’, Eric added.
To mobilize more support from all levels for the protection of the planet and people, EPA with support from UNDP has widened their scope to train more technicians, especially members of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Workshop Owners Association.
The trainings, which are being organized under the Hydrochloroflourocarbons Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) Stage 1 Project has so far built the capacity of over 2000 technicians across Ghana.