Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Groups Demand Faster US Phase Out of Super-Greenhouse Gasses

Fast uptake of safe substitutes can quickly replace damaging HFCs

Washington, DC, 6 October 2015 – In the continuing battle to phase down the super-greenhouse gasses known as HFCs, today environmental groups demanded that the EPA withdraw approval for these chemicals in all application where lower global warming potential (GWP) alternatives are now available.  The petition, submitted by the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), was filed with EPA under the Clean Air Act’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP).

“The Obama administration is taking the lead to cut HFCs both at home and abroad,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of IGSD. “Stopping use of HFCs that are no longer needed is part of the effort, and it demonstrates to the rest of the world that the US is serious about a global phase down of HFCs, which can avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century.”

The use of HFCs, which are found primarily in refrigeration, air conditioning, and foam and aerosol products, is increasing more quickly in the US than any other greenhouse, and at a rate of 10 to 15 percent globally.

The ongoing campaign to reduce HFCs includes efforts on state and federal levels and well as the global level. Last week California’s Air Resources Board pledged to reduce HFCs by 40% by 2030. Support to phase down HFCs is also increasing on the intentional level.  So far 95 countries have submitted formal proposals to phase down HFCs through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol.  Many other countries, including China and Brazil have agreed with President Obama to support the HFC amendment.  The final meeting of the parties this year will be in the United Arab Emirates 1 to 5 November.

“Victory is still possible this year, and the near-term climate benefits will be monumental,” added Zaelke. “Not only could an HFC phase down under the Montreal Protocol avoid 100 (87-146) billion tonnes CO2 equivalent by 2050, another 100 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent could be added by making the air conditioners and other appliances that use the refrigerants super-efficient.” The calculations on air conditioning efficiency were recently released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

More details on the EPA petition can be found on David Doniger’s NRDC blog here.

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here.