If you are looking for EIA UK, it's overhere.

China Signals Intention to Transition To Truly Low-GWP Alternatives

By Christina Starr, Policy Analyst

China’s Foreign Economic Cooperation Office under the Ministry of Environmental Protection (FECO), recently published the ‘First Catalogue of Recommended Substitutes for HCFCs.’ The catalogue lists natural low-GWP alternatives as the only substitutes it will support and accept in all but four types of equipment for the more than a dozen refrigeration and air conditioning end-uses. The catalogue sends a strong signal that China intends to move overwhelmingly toward natural substitutes. According to market intelligence firm China Chemicals Market (CCM) after publishing a list like this one, China will likely promulgate more substantial policies to promote natural refrigerants, detergents, and foaming agents over the coming years.

Momentum has been building towards a global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the manmade, super greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning, among other uses. The big question is now—after nearly two decades of chemical transitions—will the world choose substitutes that stand the test of time? Or will we continue to spin our wheels by moving only to mid- and high range global warming potentials (GWPs) refrigerants?

Countries seeking to enact policies to reduce HFC emissions are presented with a variety of competing options for new substitutes. For almost all uses, there are natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons, ammonia, carbon dioxide (CO2), water, and even air as well as not-in-kind technologies such as solar cooling with GWP from 0 to 20 (for reference, the GWP of CO2 is 1). The manufacturers of CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs are producing a range of new fluorinated chemicals with GWP from 3 to 1500 as permanent and interim replacements to HFCs, which would most likely need to be replaced again. However, leapfrogging HFCs and HFC-blends and transitioning to truly low-GWP alternatives immediately will have the greatest impact on reducing the rate of climate change.

This announcement is incredibly important as China manufactures 70-80 percent of the world’s air conditioners and refrigerators and is a major driver of the global marketplace. With this catalogue, China is indeed strongly signaling its intent to step off of the HFC treadmill and that it will not be choosing mid-and high range HFCs and HFC blends.

While leading the world in transitioning away from HFCs, China can—and must—continue this momentum if we hope to globally phase down HFCs to close the pre-2020 gigatonne mitigation gap and help keep the global warming below two degrees Celsius—which scientists agree is necessary to prevent runaway climate change. For example, there are proven climate-friendly alternatives for at least two of the four types of equipment where the Chinese catalogue still recommends the continued use of HFCs, hydrocarbons in condensing units, and CO2 for heat pump water heaters. China should consider whether the use of HFCs is still warranted in these two uses. We look forward to seeing China back up this catalogue with policies that will ensure a transition to the substitutes listed as quickly as possible.

With China’s robust signal that it will move away from HFCs, we have the chance to make this global phase-down of refrigerants the last necessary phase-down and maximize its near term climate mitigation.

View all Blog Posts

Recent Blog Posts

California’s New Plan to Reduce HFCs in Supermarkets
02/03/2020
Part one in a series on policy trends on eliminating HFCs, emerging from California.
Montreal Protocol Countries Make Key Decisions in Rome
11/19/2019
At MOP 31, 171 nations grappled with improving enforcement, monitoring banned gases, financing the MLF, ensuring a sustainable cold chain, and more.

Recent Reports

Search, Reuse and Destroy: Initiating Global Discussion to Act on a 100 Billion Ton Climate Problem
11/06/2019
Search, Reuse and Destroy: Initiating Global Discussion to Act on a 100 Billion Ton Climate Problem
EIA 2018 Impact Report
09/09/2019
In 2018 the Environmental Investigation Agency continued to confront the greatest environmental threats facing the world today. The EIA team pursued, documented and exposed the activities of syndicates that threaten endangered species, damage the climate and ozone layer, and drive the trade in timber stolen from the world’s most important remaining forests.

Recent Press Releases

New Environmental Mystery: HFC-23 Super Pollutant Emissions Continue Despite Montreal Protocol Controls
01/21/2020
A new paper in Nature Communications finds that, based on atmospheric data, emissions of one of the most potent greenhouse gases on the planet, HFC-23 are higher than at any point in history. Meanwhile, emissions reported of the same substance are at the lowest in the past 17 years. The study estimates that an additional ~309 Tg CO2-equivalent emissions (greater than 300 million tons) were added to the atmosphere between 2015 and 2017.
EIA Response to New Study Estimating Impact of Illegal CFC-11 on Ozone Hole Recovery
12/19/2019
A new paper due to be published in Nature on Thursday December 19. EIA Climate Campaign Lead Avipsa Mahapatra responds to the new findings.

Recent Videos

Blowing It
07/08/2018
Information obtained by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) demonstrates conclusively that the use of CFC-11 in China’s rigid polyurethane (PU) foam insulation sector, in particular in the building and construction subsector, is widespread and pervasive. CFC-11 is used as a foam blowing agent for the manufacture of molded foam panels and spray foam used for insulation purposes
What are the HFC-free Technologies?
Widespread adoption of HFC-free technologies is cost-effective, energy efficient, and climate-friendly. Read EIA’s report Putting the Freeze on HFCs for hundreds of examples of HFC-free technologies available and in use today.
A Global HFC Phase-down
The October 2016 Montreal Protocol meeting in Kigali, Rwanda yielded a global agreement to phase down HFCs. Now countries must ratify and implement the Kigali Amendment! Read and share EIA's briefing on this great opportunity and obligation to avert climate catastrophe.
Help us mitigate climate destroying gases
Where are HFCs used?
What are HFCs?
How to Recycle Your Fridge