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EIA Calls on Chemours to Immediately End Activities Causing HFC-23 Emissions

A press release today from the American chemical giant, the Chemours Company, reveals the company’s unfulfilled promises and blatant disregard for the global climate. The statement announces a project to reduce emissions of one of the most potent climate pollutants known to mankind, HFC-23, by the end of 2022. This “new” announcement comes more than five years after a nearly identical commitment the company made to the Obama Administration in 2015 to “control, and to the extent feasible, eliminate by-product emissions of HFC-23” at their production facilities worldwide. Since the 2015 announcement, Chemours has been by far the largest polluter of HFC-23 in the country according to their self-reported emissions data to EPA. HFC-23 has a climate impact more than 12,000 times that of carbon dioxide.

EIA’s Climate Campaign Lead, Avipsa Mahapatra said: “This statement comes more than five years after Chemours’ initial commitments to deal with this gas. It is shameful that in 2021, a major multinational chemical company is unable or unwilling to control and contain its own chemical waste, when other companies, including in developing countries, have been doing so for years. If Chemours is incapable of running this facility responsibly, it must immediately cease operations leading to these waste emissions.”

The company, Chemours, was spun-off from DuPont in July 2015 and is one of the largest global producers of HFCs. For the past decade, the Chemours facility in Louisville, KY, emitted anywhere from 2.7 to 5.15 million metric tonnes of CO2e each year in the co-production of HCFC-22 and HFC-23. The single facility is responsible for 64% of all HFC emissions reported to EPA by production facilities in 2019. Meanwhile in 2016 India mandated its chemical industry to collect and destroy emissions of HFC-23 with immediate effect.

“In a world fighting to avoid catastrophic climate change, this company has continued to shirk its responsibility to tackle a gas that has one of the highest global warming impacts,” said Mahapatra. “Chemours’ inaction and flagrant lack of accountability flies in the face of global efforts to stop emissions of other greenhouse gases, and also shows why it is critical the United States ratify the Kigali Amendment, which requires immediate HFC-23 destruction.”

EIA calls on Chemours to cease any activity that leads to the release of HFC-23 into the atmosphere. Additionally, Chemours must restore the damage they have done by taking responsibility for the lifecycle climate impacts of their chemicals from cradle to grave. Recovery, reclaim, and destruction of all HFC refrigerants presents the opportunity to prevent nearly 100 billion tons of CO2e emissions by 2050.

Notes to the Editor:

  • HFC-23 is an unwanted by-product resulting from the production of ozone-depleting refrigerant HCFC-22. While HCFCs are being phased out for emissive uses, their use as a feedstock has grown significantly in recent years.
  • HFC-23 destruction is mandatory for parties to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the 2016 global agreement to phase down HFCs. Although 92 countries have ratified the Kigali Amendment, the major producers of HCFC-22 and thus HFC-23 United States, China, India, and Russia have yet to ratify.
  • EIA first exposed the HFC-23 scandal 10 years ago, when we called on the UN to retire HFC-23 carbon credits under the flawed Clean Development Mechanism defended by the World Bank. EIA carried out investigations into HFC-23 venting in China and India in our report Two Billion Tonne Climate Bomb.
  • Installing and using incinerators for destroying HFC-23 is a commonly accepted best-practice globally.
  • Meanwhile, last year a study found HFC-23 to be growing at record levels in the atmosphere, inconsistent with on-the-ground reporting.
  • See Chemours’ October 2015 announcement.

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Contact:

Avipsa Mahapatra: amahapatra@eia-global.org; +1 347-931-0129, @avipsa_m

Lindsay Moran: lmoran@eia-global.org

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