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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

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.
A ‘Cool’ Way to Take Action after the Global Climate Strike
09/23/2019
Ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit this week, millions of protestors participated in the global climate strike last Friday. The strike called on our leaders to take action on climate change as they meet in New York City. According to experts we have just 12 years to respond to climate change, to limit global temperature rise to under 2°C, and to protect life on Earth as we know it.

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

“Cool It” Campaign: Groups Take Aim At Walmart’s Massive Refrigerant Leakage Problem
08/13/2019
“Cool It” Campaign: Groups Take Aim At Walmart’s Massive Refrigerant Leakage Problem
California Green Lights Incentive Program to Reduce HFCs
06/14/2019
This week California’s legislature approved a 2019-2020 budget providing $1 million to create an incentive program for reducing emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Established by the California Cooling Act (SB1013) passed last year, the program will incentivize adoption of climate-friendly refrigerant technologies, with a mandate to also consider other co-benefits such as energy efficiency and opportunities for increasing recovery, reclamation, and destruction of refrigerants at end-of-life.

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