As I noted in a story I wrote that appeared in the Dec. 6, 2010 issue of The NEWS, the HVACR industry started paying attention to environmental issues back in the 1980s with the Montreal Protocol, which did indeed change the way we did business. But over the years, I’ve realized that the results might have ended up being a good thing. Our service practices are better as the result of venting fine threats and the refrigerants we now use are less ozone depleting.
The next big global initiative was the Kyoto Protocol of the 1990s. That was the one where most of the major countries of the world promised to reduce emissions that have a negative effect on the environment. The United States did not sign off on that due to the issue of “developed” versus “developing” countries when it came to benchmarks. And, in fact, those countries that did sign off had a hard time reaching what they promised until the more recent recession slowed down worldwide growth and, in turn, helped reduce some of those emissions in some countries.
NEXT WAVEIn December 2009, I was fretting a bit over the Copenhagen Accord and what negative impacts it could have on a struggling HVACR industry in the United States. Ends up that accord went pretty much nowhere, with countries only agreeing to keep talking about environmental issues. Later in mid-2010, I went to an environmental conference where a distinguished law professor from Rutgers University told an audience that events like Copenhagen probably won’t go anywhere down the road because currently many countries are mired in economic doldrums and that issue of “developing” versus “developed” countries is still high on many countries radar screens.
Perhaps that is why, as I write this column in December 2010, I just realized that yet another global environmental conference has come - and gone. This one was called the Annual Conference of Parties to the United Nations Climate Agreement. (That annual caught my eye since it means we are going to read about these events every year toward the end of each calendar year, I guess.)
The most recent one was held in Cancun, Mexico, where they could still talk about global warming since it was away from the blizzards and bone-chilling cold typical of most Northern climate cities. As far as global warming down there; well, there are those beaches at water’s edge for quick dips to cool off.
This most recent conference came up with those involved agreeing to establish some kind of green climate fund to deal with environmental issues internationally; doing technology transfers, kind of a way for more advanced “developed” countries to help “developing” countries do a better job in research to reduce environmental negatives; and a pledge to monitor what everybody says they are doing.
Only thing is, such pledges from scientists have to have the support of elected officials in most countries, including the United States. And the U.S. situation is marked by changes in Congress, lots of questions about how to pay for a green climate fund in a sluggish economy, and how all these grand ideas are going to come about among nations who don’t see eye to eye on many matters.
TAKE AWAYBut here’s the take away from all this. All the talk at the conference about negative global emissions gets down, at least from the HVACR perspective, to running a tight system, having super energy-efficient equipment, and building and maintaining sustainable buildings.
The industry has all of the above and is more than willing to install and service energy-efficient equipment in sustainable buildings. Maybe what needs to happen is some sort of global decree - be it in Montreal, Kyoto, Copenhagen, or Cancun or wherever they go next - to really take effect and have elected officials support it - and end up seeing how it can positively affect our industry.
To be totally pragmatic about it, think about it this way: Global Accords: The New Profit Center for HVACR Contractors!