Defusing the HFC-23 Climate Bomb

HFC-23 (trifluoromethane) is one of the most potent greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere today.

EIA investigators have discovered that many Chinese and Indian facilities, despite having destruction technology readily available, are releasing or threatening to emit the by-product unless they receive additional financing to dispose of the chemicals.  Plants that produce HCFC-22 in other developing countries could also do the same. If this happens, it would cause the release of more than two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) into the atmosphere by 2020.


HFC-23 is produced as a by-product during the manufacture of a commonly used refrigerant, HCFC-22, and is 14,800 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide (CO2). Incineration technology has been deployed in many HCFC-22 plants to destroy this powerful by-product, and yet measurements indicate that emissions of HFC-23 are at least 127 million tonnes CO2-equivalent (CO2e) per year and concentrations of HFC-23 in the atmosphere are steadily increasing.

HFC-23 has been the focus for the first emission reduction projects funded through the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Under the UN program, incinerators for HFC-23 are installed at 19 refrigerant facilities, mostly in China and India but also in South Korea, Argentina and Mexico, to help control the super greenhouse gas.

Click to read the report.

HFC-23 Facilities World Map




HCFC-22 Map Instructions
- Use the legend on the left of the map to identify the type of plant.
- To zoom in on a site, scroll with your mouse or use the controls on the upper right-hand side of the map.
- To move around the world, left-click and drag.
- Click on a plant icon to bring up information on the plant. Due to glitches in the system, it may be necessary to double click or re-click an icon in order for all information to appear.
- To open a link in an icon box, right click the link then click open link in new tab.

Map Produced by Lowell Chandler