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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

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.
Update on CFC-11 Discussions at Montreal Protocol Meeting
07/16/2018
Update on Discussions of CFC-11 and Montreal Protocol Meetings

Recent Reports

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.
EIA's 2016 Annual Report
11/22/2017
EIA's official 2016 Annual Report includes a complete financial report as well as the major accomplishments achieved by each of our three core campaigns.

Recent Press Releases

EPA Issues Final Rulemaking on Climate-Friendly Fridges
08/08/2018
Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rulemaking that will allow the US market to transition away from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent super greenhouse gases, in new household refrigerators and freezers.
IMO Takes Major Step Towards Ending Dirty Fuel Use in the Arctic
04/13/2018
EIA hails the IMO's agreement to develop a ban on the use and carriage for use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.

Recent Videos

India Takes Critical Step to Protect Global Climate from HFC-23
10/13/2016
India has announced its chemical industry, with immediate effect, must collect and destroy emissions of its most potent greenhouse gas, HFC-23. EIA first exposed the HFC-23 crisis ten years ago and has carried out investigations into HFC-23 venting in China and India.
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