Carbon Taxing Refrigerants But Not Carbon Dioxide?

ON July 1, Australia not only got a carbon tax, but also a tax on refrigerants based on their global warming potential. Refrigerants are used to keep things cool, for example, food in our refrigerators and people in cars and shopping centres.

The refrigerants industry is claiming the tax will significantly increase their costs.

The Australian government, however, claims that the new tax will simply encourage the use of alternative refrigerants which are less harmful for the environment. Indeed the relevant government website states:

“In many cases there are alternatives to synthetic greenhouse gases already in the Australian market. There are also low or non global warming alternatives in prospect for many applications.
Overseas and Australian experience is demonstrating that natural alternatives [to synthetic greenhouse gases] such as ammonia, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons can be used safely and effectively.”

What? The Australian government is suggesting that carbon dioxide is, relatively speaking, not a potent greenhouse gas.

So, why in the scheme of things, relatively speaking, do we have a carbon tax?

Thanks to Gary for his letter…

Hi Jennifer,

I am concerned that the Australian Public is not aware of the huge price hike in refrigerant gas prices due to the carbon tax.

Apparently the HFC’s that replaced the ozone depleting CFC’s are considered potent green house gasses and as a result of the clean energy bills are to be loaded with an equivalent carbon tax.

Until recently a 12Kg bottle of R134a could be purchased for a little less than $300. After a recent price rise with unknown cause the list price has increased to above $700. After July 1 the list price for the same 12Kg bottle will be $2181.84.

While each domestic refrigerator only holds less than ½ Kg of gas and the price of a domestic fridge will only have to increase by a small amount this is not the complete picture.

A car air conditioner holds about 1Kg and again the purchase price will rise by a small amount, however, the seals in a vehicle aircon are not perfect and it is common for them to require recharging a number of times throughout their life.

But the big crunch will be shopping centre air-conditioning and refrigeration where hundreds of kilos are used and very often due to many reasons gas charges are lost requiring complete replacement of the gas charge. The cost of a gas recharge could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This price rise will inevitably cause a knock on effect for all fresh food as it all refrigerated.

Regards Gary

27 Responses to Carbon Taxing Refrigerants But Not Carbon Dioxide?

  1. Sean July 9, 2012 at 2:42 am #

    So the natural refrigerents are Ammonia, hydrocarbons and CO2. Let’s think about that. I’ve seen ammonia used in industrial refrigeration plants. I’m sure the driver here is costs as these systems have hundreds of kilograms of refrigerent. Their plumbers must not have been perfect as I recall a faint ammonia odor whenever I visited. Imaging the odor and the hazard should you spring a leak in your home. The hydrocarbon refrigerents are likely ethane or propane. If these leak a litttle bit you have a pollutant that can lead to low level ozone and if they spring a big leak, it could be an explosion hazard. The CO2 systems would be much safer but they’d likely run a higher pressure and the systems need to be heavier. That’s inconvenient for a refrigerator but it adds weight to a vehicle’s air conditioning system and lower efficiencly of the vehicle.
    What sounds dp simple theory comes with risks or other costs that ought to be easily anticipated. You can nudge all you want to encourage an outcome but the rules of chemistry and physics aren’t changed by an up-down vote.

  2. hunter July 9, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    Bad science leads to bad policy.
    Australia’s policy seems to imply that the science is much worse than many of us thought.

  3. John Sayers July 9, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    So if they are taxing these refrigerants because they are greenhouse gasses then they must tax solar panels as GHGs are produced in their manufacture.

  4. Neville July 9, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    Certainly as I’ve shown here before the Gillard govt couldn’t care less about co2 emissions, provided other countries emit the co2. Even using our coal, gas and iron ore. Resources minister Ferguson even wants the Vic govt to turn our Latrobe valley brown coal into a new Pilbara. But the latest co2 emissions per country are very interesting.

    See 2008 and then at the bottom major emitters for 2010. As at 2012 OZ would probably be less than 1% of the planet’s emissions.
    China emissions are soaring at about 1 billion extra tonnes of new emissions every 12 months, while USA are heading south back to 1990 levels.

    Incredible to think that China and USA were at the same levels in 2006.
    As of 2012 China would be at 25% and the USA about 16%. and OZ under 1% plus New Zealand under 0.1%.

    As I’ve said before the entire co2 tax is a fraud and con trick. Just apply a simple kindy maths blowtorch to the Gillard govt legislation and nothing adds up or makes any sense.

    Like all ponzi con tricks this fraud can’t last if new brainless participants can’t be found. Sooner or later the pyramid must collapse as people gradually realise their investment this year may be worth much less or worthless in the future.
    So why pay $23 today when you can buy for under $10 elsewhere and like the Chicago exchange this may collapse to just a few cents in the future.

    Of course the Europeans have found that the markets at times are corrupted, so that scrap of paper you sometimes hold for X numbers of tonnes of co2 emissions ( your credit) are indeed fraudulent and have no basis in fact.

  5. Neville July 9, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    More on this Gillard govt Co2 tax fraud from Viv Forbes at WUWT.

    What is wrong with people, or will some religious types believe just about anything? Even Luther and others brought on the reformation by demonstrating against the fraud of the selling of indulgences, so why do so many Aussies still believe in this fanatical nonsense.

    Simple maths proves we can’t change the climate ( from OZ) or temp by a jot, so what is their barking mad motivation? All at the cost of countless billions $ for decades into the future for a zero return on that money and the loss of our jobs and industry overseas.

  6. Johnathan Wilkes July 9, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    ammonia has been the choice for industrial scale refrigeration from the year dot,

    An ammonia-based refrigeration systems costs 10-20% less to build than one that uses CFCs because narrower-diameter piping can be used.
    Ammonia is a 3-10% more efficient refrigerant than CFCs, so an ammonia-based system requires less electricity, resulting in lower operating costs.
    Ammonia is safe for the environment, with an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) rating of 0 and a Global Warming Potential (GWP) rating of 0.
    Ammonia is substantially less expensive than CFCs or HCFCs

  7. Johnathan Wilkes July 9, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Sorry posted before finished, it has disadvantages too, can’t use copper piping, can be dangerous if escapes, that’s why never used in domestic situations. But the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

    The very first cooling and refrigeration plants were built using ammonia.
    It made shipping frozen beef from Argentina possible ages ago!

  8. Debbie July 9, 2012 at 9:31 am #
    A little O/T I know but it does rather exemplify Hunter’s point above:
    “even the dead don’t escape the carbon tax”.

  9. cohenite July 9, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    The simple fact is that the uber GHGs such as CH4 which has a CO2 Greenhouse effect multiplier of 21, N2O with a multiplier of 310 and then the hypers, the GFCs with multipliers of up to 23,900 in the case of SF6, are all based on the assumption that CO2 has a Greenhouse effect which is still operating; it isn’t. It stopped at about 200 ppm, according to Hottell’s principles and is otherwise declining rapidly according to Beer’s Law.

    So does that mean the other GHGs have no effect as well?

  10. Gerard July 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    The refrigerants proposed as an lternative by the government requires the replacement of existing equipment at huge cost. The problem industry has with the tax is the repair of current equipment which often requires the replacement or top-up of refrigerant. This will now cost thousands more say in the case of a supermarket refrigeration plant – a cost that will be passed on to consumers through hogher prices.

    I also have doubt about the calculated ‘global warming potential’ assigned to these materials which in clude factors such as an estimate of the lifetime of these materials in the atmosphere.

    One problem is that when the portion of the spectrum represented by carbon dioxide is saturated no additional ‘greenhouse effect’ due to these materials is possible.

  11. cementafriend July 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    Sean, before making silly comments about explosion hazards I suggest you look up some data. There are three requirements for combustion of a gaseous hydrocarbon
    1) the presence of sufficient hydrocarbon -called the lower/lean flammability limit (this is about 50% of the stoichiometric mix volume)
    2) sufficient oxygen- normally expressed as the upper/rich flammability limit (various with different compounds but is around 300% of stoichiometric mix volume) and
    3) sufficient temperature or source of ignition (for Butane this is about 430C)

    Leakage of LPG into the open atmosphere is not an explosion hazard otherwise gas bbq equipment would be banned. Dangers may arise in confined space (such as the NZ coal mine explosion where there was insufficient ventilation and obviously a source of ignition eg an arcing electric motor)
    Finally, click my name which has a updated copy of a post on this blog about methane. Methane is not a greenhouse gas

  12. Neville July 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    More money sunk pusuing this hopeless co2 fraud.

    But don’t worry there’s billions more of your taxes to follow this waste , straight down the toilet.

  13. Mark July 9, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Love it! Back to NH3…toxic for humans but doesn’t affect the environment. Yep, it is a good basic refrigeration system for industry grade chilled water systems. Anyone who has ever owned a NH3 frig will tell you they ain’t flash when it gets hot. Anyone thought about the emmissions of the heat source to drive the system? Howabout a leak? Any leak is a hazard, respirators and hazmat suits required. Whereas the good old CFC is inert. Doesn’t react with anything,non flamable, heavier than air and with help of DuPont blamed for eradication of the ozone layer…just in time to be removed from service so no one else could make money from a product out of patent protection. R12 and R22 didn’t need any special lubricants where R134a requires lubricants that cause cancer in rats and needs to run at higher pressures and lesser efficiency levels than the gases they replaced. Propane is a good refrigerant but highly flammable…I cart it for a living…expands 280 times to atmosphere then explosive flammable…just great in the family car….you would not dream of attempting to fit a NH3 system in a car….would you?

  14. Ian Thomson July 10, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    More pertinent to the subject. Like the silly light bulbs and the green shop bags, are there coincidentally shiploads of the new types already manufactured in China on the way here right now ?
    All ready for some cosy mates to make a killing ?

  15. Walter Starck July 10, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    The added cost for refrigerant gases is going to be disasterous for many small businesses.
    Refrigerant gas price hike stings local businesses

  16. Tim Curtin July 10, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    Is the CO2 used in fire extinguishers and dry ice also carbon-taxable?

  17. John Sayers July 10, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Ian – I asked a checkout teller to weigh one of the new green shopping bags, he then weighed a similar amount of the standard plastic bags. Believe me the green bag weighed more than a year’s supply of normal bags yet they are both made from the same type of plastic.

    Where’s Luke these days? I suspect he’s in Cairns attending the GBR lovefest currently underway.

  18. John Sayers July 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    How about the brewers Tim – there’s 6.5g of CO2 in a litre of beer or champagne.

  19. Neville July 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    More BS nonsense on the GBR and what about that sea level rise?

  20. Tim Curtin July 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    John Sayers, oh gawd, I suppose the CO2 in my gin and tonics will also be hit!

  21. John Sayers July 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Actually there’s 62.5gms/litre. Can you imagine how much CO2 Coca Cola produces?

    For 100 g of beer, we need to create 6.22 g of CO2 (5.856/(100-5.856)x100). This is 62.2 g of CO2 per liter of beer. Maybe this doesn’t sound like much, but let me put it in perspective: in 2004, Americans drank 23.974 billion liters of beer, resulting in 1,491,182 mT of CO2 emissions. Global beer consumption in 2004 was 150.392 billion liters, resulting in 9,354,382 mT of CO2 emissions

    Maybe wee need a new site claiming carbonated drinks is changing the climate.

  22. Larry Fields July 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    I think that every university Climate Change Studies Department should have a small, specially designed refrigerator that uses Radon-222 as the refrigerant. Why?

    Because radon is not a Greenhouse Gas. The CC Studies Department’s fridge would not be feeding the Flying CO2 Monster, and they would be setting a sterling example for the rest of us in that respect.

    There’s also a fringe benefit. Or is it a benefit for the fringe? The radioactivity would kill any microscopic beasties that were the least bit tempted to nosh on the vegan delights in the fridge.

    Of course, the short half-life of Rn-222 would a fly in the ointment. Topping off the refrigerant every 3.8 days (and cleaning out the daughter products) would be a bit of a chore. But if it saves the planet, it’s worth whatever cost is involved. And it would be an inspiring illustration of the Precautionary Principle in action. Any takers?

  23. Bill Burrows July 10, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    I miss Luke too John. Blogs have their own ‘family’ and Luke is certainly a character in this one. But I speculate he may have been offered a redundancy, which he couldn’t refuse, by Can-do Newman. If this is the case he will reappear, after a hiatus, because as an oldtimer in this new age I have found that one does not die any more, we simply blog away.

  24. spangled drongo July 10, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    It would be a terrible shame if Luke is missed this:

    He would be absolutely thrilled to learn that one of his favourite subjects, SAM, is responsible for neg feedback and local cooling of ~2.5c.

    All from a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal too.

  25. spangled drongo July 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    And also John, if our Lovely Boy is up at that same GBR love fest I hope he reads this first just to improve his understanding of nat var:

  26. John Sayers July 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    well as a typical human I’m about to experience climate change at it’s most severe. I’ll drive to Brisbane to see Donna Laframbois at around 19C then I’ll board a plane and fly up to 43,000 ft at – 20C – travel at 800km/hr then land in Dubai where the average temp is 45C.

    All the warming they are scaring us about is .8C.


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