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What Are Hydrofluorocarbons?

HFCs: Super Greenhouse Gases

HFCs or hydrofluorocarbons, are super greenhouse gases, manufactured for use in refrigeration, air conditioning, foam blowing, aerosols, fire protection and solvents. HFCs unlike most other greenhouse gases are not waste products but are intentionally produced. HFCs were developed as alternatives to ozone depleting substances that are being phased-out under the Montreal Protocol. Unfortunately, HFCs have a global warming potential 1000 to 3000 times that of CO2, and their use has increased from almost nothing in 1990 to 1,100 million tonnes of CO2e in 2010. HFC emissions (excluding HFC-23 by-product) currently account for around 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions and as much as 3% in many developed countries. If left unchecked, these emissions will increase to 7-19% of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and off-set most if not all mitigation actions pledged by countries to date.

Do We Have to Use These Climate-Destroying Gases?

No! HFC-free technologies are currently available, and more are coming on-line every year so that most uses could be phased-out by 2020 and the remaining uses by 2030. Some of the currently available climate-friendly alternatives include hydrocarbons, ammonia (R- 717), water and carbon dioxide (CO2 or R-744). Other alternatives refrigerants, such as isobutane (R-600a) propylene (R-1270); and not-in-kind alternatives, such as solar, are also likely to be commercialized and enter the market in the next few years. EIA works to encourage transitions by working with supermarkets, breaking down barriers to change in all industries, and by encouraging domestic actions.

Recent Posts

A Week of Climate Action on HFCs and Cooling
09/17/2018
HFCs used in cooling were a hot topic at the Global Climate Action Summit last week in San Francisco. With momentum building for subnational actors like cities, states, and businesses to drive action forward on climate, we have the opportunity to tackle the issue of how we keep cool without warming the planet - by phasing down superpollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and identifying new approaches to maximize energy efficiency as global demand for cooling increases.
EIA Statement: China Takes Action on Illegal CFC-11 Production and Use Following EIA Report
08/06/2018
China has identified illegal production and use of CFC-11 as part of ongoing investigations following the July publication of an EIA report, Blowing It, that revealed Chinese companies using CFC-11 – a banned ozone-destroying chemical – in blowing agents used for producing foam insulation.

Recent Reports

Energy Efficiency in HFC-free Supermarket Refrigeration
11/20/2018
Energy Efficiency in HFC-free Supermarket Refrigeration
Blowing It: Illegal Production and Use of Banned CFC-11 in China's Foam Blowing Industry
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.

Recent Press Releases

MONTREAL PROTOCOL TAKES STEPS TO CRACK DOWN ON ILLEGAL OZONE-KILLER CFCs
11/12/2018
MONTREAL PROTOCOL TAKES STEPS TO CRACK DOWN ON ILLEGAL OZONE-KILLER CFCs
EPA Proposes Rescinding Controls on Leaks of Superpollutant HFCs
09/19/2018
Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will issue a proposed rule rescinding requirements to control leaks and venting of superpollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) from refrigeration and air conditioning equipment.
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.
Nearing a Global HFC Phase-down
The October 2016 Montreal Protocol meeting in Kigali, Rwanda is expected to yield a global agreement to phase down HFCs. 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