SAN FRANCISCO — If 30 percent of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants are reclaimed for reuse by 2040, approximately 18 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent would be prevented from reaching the atmosphere over the next 25 years, according to a white paper released by EOS Climate. The white paper was released during the Navigating the American Carbon World conference, a leading forum for discussing climate policy and greenhouse gas markets held in Los Angeles.

“Even with a global agreement to phase down production of HFCs and regulations that promote low-global warming potential (GWP) technology in new equipment, refrigerants already produced will continue to leak powerful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over the next several decades,” said Jeff Cohen, co-founder of EOS Climate and white paper co-author. “With relatively small changes in practices and little if any additional cost, HFC refrigerants can be recovered, reclaimed, and reused, potentially avoiding emissions equivalent to billions of tons of CO2 between now and 2040 — a critical window to address climate change.”

HFCs were developed as ozone-friendly substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) for the phaseout of those ozone-depleting chemicals under the Montreal Protocol. Although HFCs are safe for the stratospheric ozone layer, they are powerful greenhouse gases when released to the atmosphere. Pound for pound, HFCs have global warming potentials (GWPs) hundreds to thousands of times higher than CO2 and are among the fastest-growing greenhouse gases in the world, said EOS Climate. The United States, with support from a number of countries, has proposed a gradual phasedown of HFC production, but any production phasedown would not address HFC refrigerants already in use.

“If left unchecked, HFC refrigerants will continue on the path as the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gas. The simplest and most cost-effective way to address this problem is through recycling. However, until HFC refrigerants are tracked from production to reuse in the supply chain, and metrics are established that incentivize their reuse, the likelihood of voluntary recycling will remain low. Now is the time to act,” said Joe Madden, co-founder of EOS Climate and white paper co-author.

For a copy of the white paper “Recycling HFC Refrigerants Delivers Immediate, Cost-Effective Climate Protection,” visit

Publication date: 5/4/2015

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