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Air Quality Image Credit: Hachimaki via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Published on June 12th, 2013 | by Joshua S Hill

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China And US Agree To Phase Out HFCs

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June 12th, 2013 by
 
Carbon dioxide gets a lot of press by virtue of the sheer quantities with which we pump it into our atmosphere, but it is by no means the worst of the greenhouse gasses humanity is exhaling with each day that goes by.

Image Credit: Hachimaki via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Image Credit: Hachimaki via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One such greenhouse gas that poses a much more damaging effect than carbon dioxide is hydrofluorocarbon, known as HFCs, and prominently used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

According to ‘ThinkGlobalGreen’, a website dedicated to explaining the issues surrounding global warming, notes that hydrofluorocarbons are 3,380 times more potent than carbon dioxide and production of HFCs are rising by 15% per year.

Which is why the news that US President Obama and Chinese President Xi have agreed to work together to phase out the use of HFCs is such an important global step.

According to the agreement signed by the two countries,  the United States and China have agreed to “work together and with other countries through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, while continuing to include HFCs within the scope of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol provisions for accounting and reporting of emissions.”

Environmental agencies and organisations from around the world have applauded the move by the two countries; the United States, the world’s largest user of HFCs, and China, the world’s largest producer of HFCs.

“It’s encouraging to see that China and the United States aren’t going to hold HFCs hostage under international climate negotiations,” said Mark Roberts, international policy advisor for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an international campaigning organization committed to investigating and exposing environmental crime. “The bilateral agreement between China and the United States sends a strong signal for other countries like India and Brazil to follow suit.”

“There’s an easy solution to the HFC problem with climate friendly alternatives readily available,” said Roberts. “If the largest consumers of HFCs are agreeing to phase down these potent greenhouse gases, other countries should join the consensus and take real action to combat climate change.”

Writing for Greenpeace, Paula Tejon Carbajal was pleased with the news, while simultaneously concerned about the lack of specificity in the declaration.

“Phase down? How and by when? And very important, who else is on board? HFCs? To be replaced with what?”

“Don’t get me wrong. I celebrate that we are getting closer to the end of a painful deadlock at the Montreal Protocol process – I say closer because I guess that other key players such as India and Brazil, still need to get on board – and that US and China have got to an agreement so HFCs can be discussed at the right forum.

“My only hope is that this is an agreement made on good faith. An agreement that will endeavour to achieve what is in the best for the environment and our planet and not what is in the best interests of the industry.”

Interestingly, the declaration comes only days after the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) renewed its commitment to phase out HFCs at its third Refrigeration Summit in London last week. “The London-based campaigning NGO further called on the UK Government to support its retailers through the introduction of ambitious measures in the European Union F-Gas Regulation” (EIA).

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.



  • popsi

    yeah but 410a has a much higher GWP value GWP is global warming potential value used to indicate how much greenhouse gass would be produced if the refrigerant was used and gradually released into the atomosphere. Even though 410a is better than R22 interms of the ozone layer, It’s still a poor choice as a refrigerant will eventually be phased out.

  • JamesWimberley

    “One such greenhouse gas that poses a much more damaging effect than carbon dioxide is hydrofluorocarbon ..” It’s only proportionately worse. Because there’s so much more carbon dioxide, it’s stlll the main climate-buster : 65% of the greenhouse gas effect, to the 10% of CFCs, which is declining thanks to the success of the Montreal Protocol.

    The cost of cutting CFC s is trivial in comparison, so it’s low-hanging fruit. An appetiser, not the main course.

  • http://www.kompulsa.com/ Kompulsa (Nicholas)

    The replacement for HCFCs in the US is the refrigerant: R410A for air conditioners. It is highly likely that China will use the same refrigerant, as refrigerants are normally standardized.

    The current standard gas being replaced in air conditioners is HCFC-22 (otherwise known as Refrigerant 22, or R22).

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