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Preventing runaway climate change by mitigating emissions of super greenhouse gases – hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

Through a global phase-down of HFCs we have the opportunity and the obligation to mitigate 100 billion CO2 equivalent metric tons by 2050.

EIA's Climate Campaign focuses on international and domestic policies to phase-down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) used primarily in refrigeration, air conditioning, and foam applications. As part of our work, we have undertaken groundbreaking investigations into the illegal trade in ozone depleting substances (ODS) and have been closely involved in international ozone and climate negotiations for more than a decade.

HFCs were developed as replacement chemicals for ODS (CFCs - chlorofluorocarbons and HCFCs - hydrochlorofluorocarbons), which have been or are currently being phased-out under the Montreal Protocol. Unfortunately, HFCs have huge global warming potentials (GWPs) and are several thousands of times more damaging to the climate than CO2. If left unchecked, HFC emissions will continue to increase exponentially and could constitute up to 19% of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, potentially negating a significant amount of climate change mitigation actions pledged by countries to date under the 2015 Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol is the most cost-effective, short-term and fast-action strategy for reducing GHG emissions. A global phase-down could avoid 1.1–1.7 billion metric tons CO2 equivalent (CO2 equivalent is a measure used to compare impacts of greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential in relation to CO2) of GHG emissions per year by 2030, with cumulative emission reductions of nearly 100 billion metric tons CO2 equivalent by 2050.

Fortunately, HFC-free technologies are available to enable a phase-down of HFCs and replace these dangerous, climate-damaging chemicals. Rapid large-scale transitions to HFC-free alternatives is not only possible but also critical to protect the climate.

EIA's Total Impact on Protecting the Climate

EIA's Forest Campaign is also crucial to protecting the world's climate. Deforestation and forest degradation releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and dramatically reduces the capacity of ecosystems to adapt to climate change. Healthy natural forests store vast amounts of carbon and are the most resilient to climate change and other disturbances. An independent report estimates that the push to stop illegal logging globally, which has been led by EIA, already saved 17 million hectares (42 million acres) from deforestation and forest degradation between 2002 and 2010, totaling between an estimated 1.2 and 14.6 billion metric tons of avoided carbon emissions.

Between phasing out HFCs via a global agreement under the Montreal Protocol and defending the governance of the global forests from illegal logging, these two EIA campaigns will combine to cut about half of all projected GHG emissions in 2050.

A global phase-down of HFCs at the Montreal Protocol is the largest, fastest and most cost-effective climate change mitigation option currently available.
Objectives:
  • Expose and prevent illegal trade in synthetic chemicals
  • Successful implementation and enforcement of the Kigali Amendment to achieve a swift global phase-down of HFCs
  • Increase collaboration between policymakers, civil society, and the private sector
Large HFC consuming countries must lead the way in enacting regulations to phase down HFCs and commercialize alternatives
Objectives:
  • Enact ambitious national regulations in major consuming countries
  • Enhance near-term mitigation of HFC consumption and emissions
  • Facilitate broad market uptake of HFC-free alternatives
Widespread adoption of HFC-free technologies is cost-effective, energy efficient, and climate-friendly.
Objectives:
  • Maximizing energy efficiency co-benefits
  • Raise awareness of available HFC-free alternatives
  • Ensuring direct transitions to lowest-GWP alternatives
Updating existing standards and codes, which currently prevent market uptake of HFC-free alternatives, is critical to successful implementation of a global phase down of HFCs.
Objectives:
  • Broaden stakeholder engagement in standards development
  • Accelerate adoption of updated standards, particularly in the U.S.
  • Remove market barriers posed by obsolete standards
The illegal production, use and trade in banned or controlled ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases used in the cooling sector remains a critical obstacle to international efforts to limit the worst impacts of climate change.

Recent Blog Posts

Legal Markets Like Those in Japan Enable Traders to Launder Illegal Ivory and Frustrate Enforcement
05/22/2019
Legal Markets Like Those in Japan Enable Traders to Launder Illegal Ivory and Frustrate Enforcement
Raw Intelligence: WCTS
05/22/2019
In this second installment of EIA’s Raw Intelligence series, we introduce you to the company Wan Chuan Timber Sarl (WCTS) – perhaps the worst offender of crimes committed against the forests and the people of Gabon.

Recent Reports

Toxic Trade: Forest Crime in Gabon and the Republic of Congo and Contamination of the US Market
03/25/2019
For four years, EIA has investigated the logging sector in the Congo and Gabon, countries that together account for approximately 60 percent of the total area under forest management in the Congo Basin. EIA’s findings reveal that one of the largest and most influential Chinese timber companies in Africa, the “Dejia Group,” has built its business model on bribery and crime.
Search, Reuse, and Destroy: How States Can Take the Lead on a 100 Billion Ton Climate Problem
02/14/2019
Preventing emissions of fluorinated refrigerants such as HFCs from “F-gas banks” is the single biggest near-term strategy to reduce greenhouse gases. The IPCC special report on limiting global warming to within 1.5˚C also underlined need for faster and deeper HFC emission reductions beyond those anticipated under full implementation of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

Recent Press Releases

Supermarkets Leading the Way in Eliminating Super-Pollutant HFCs
04/22/2019
Supermarkets Leading the Way in Eliminating Super-Pollutant HFCs
Toxic Trade: Forest Crime in Gabon and the Republic of Congo and Contamination of the US Market
03/25/2019
For four years, EIA has investigated the logging sector in the Congo and Gabon, countries that together account for approximately 60 percent of the total area under forest management in the Congo Basin. EIA’s findings reveal that one of the largest and most influential Chinese timber companies in Africa, the “Dejia Group,” has built its business model on bribery and crime.

Recent Videos

Raw Intelligence: WCTS
05/22/2019
In this second installment of EIA’s Raw Intelligence series, we introduce you to the company Wan Chuan Timber Sarl (WCTS) – perhaps the worst offender of crimes committed against the forests and the people of Gabon.
Série Intelligence Brute d’EIA - N°2 WCTS
05/22/2019
Dans ce deuxième volet de la série Intelligence Brute d’EIA, nous vous présentons la société Wan Chuan Timber Sarl (WCTS), très probablement l’un des pires responsables de crimes commis contre les forêts du Gabon et les personnes qui en dépendent.
Follow us @eiaenvironment on twitter for the latest updates!
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.
Where are HFCs used?
What are HFCs?
Help us mitigate climate destroying gases
How to Recycle Your Fridge