Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are included among the seven greenhouse gases (GHGs) targeted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) even though they are primarily used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) controlled under the Montreal Protocol.

refrigerant_cansister(c)BanksPhotos_iStock_2011Despite their ostensible regulation under the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol, over the past 25 years HFC emissions have grown from almost non-existent to nearly two per cent of all GHGs. Find out more about EIA’s investigations into dodgy HFC-23 carbon trading schemes.

Emissions of HFCs continue to grow faster than any other GHG and their growth is predicted to accelerate in the future.

The good news is that there are climate-friendly alternatives and we are campaigning hard for a global phase-out of HFCs. EIA believes this is best achieved through the Montreal Protocol, which already has a proven track record of phasing out CFC and HCFC refrigerants, also super greenhouse gases. There are now multiple proposals under discussion at the Montreal Protocol and EIA campaigners are advocating a swift and ambitious phase-down in both developed and developing countries.

EIA is a member of the Green Cooling Initiative, a project promoting the use of natural refrigerants, and is engaging with manufacturers and end users of HFCs to share information on climate-friendly alternatives. We also partner with Greenpeace in the Cool Technologies website, a searchable database providing case studies of non-fluorinated alternatives to HFCs.

In the UK, supermarkets are the biggest source of HFC emissions, with leaking refrigerant gases accounting for about 25 per cent of a retailer’s carbon footprint. EIA’s work has seen a radical improvement in the uptake of climate-friendly alternatives and genuine commitments from UK and European retailers to become HFC-free in the future. Find out more about our Chilling Facts campaign.