California State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) recently introduced the California Cooling Act (Senate Bill 1013), which is designed to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are considered to be a growing source of greenhouse emissions in California and around the world.

The Obama Administration ended the use of many HFCs in 2015, but the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned the rule. An appeals court declined to rehear the case of Mexichem Fluor v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month by environmental groups and U.S. manufacturers.

“Super-pollutants from refrigerants are one of the biggest threats to our planet’s health, contributing to climate disasters like wildfires and extreme heat events,” said Sen. Lara. “But we are not alone in this fight. American businesses are ready to roll up their sleeves to meet our clean air goals. The California Cooling Act supports companies as they develop alternatives to these dangerous super-pollutants and keeps California in the lead on cleaner air.”

Experts predict that phasing out HFCs globally will help reduce 0.5 ºC of warming by 2100 — reducing the risks of extreme weather events like wildfires and impact on California’s agriculture. According to Lara, the California Cooling Act will maintain the momentum around reducing HFCs, including incentives for businesses and residents to switch to low-polluting air conditioning and refrigeration.

“HFCs are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in California as well as globally. The world recently agreed to a global phase-down of HFCs, but the U.S. market has lagged behind Europe and other regions in adopting alternative technologies,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, climate campaign lead, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). “Implemented at the proper scale in a major state like California, these measures can help shift the entire U.S. cooling market, and in doing so, support the Kigali Amendment.”

California already has ambitious targets in place to reduce HFC emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, noted EIA. The California Cooling Act outlines actions geared toward meeting these targets, in part by providing financial incentives for buying low-GWP cooling systems, which range from household appliances to large-scale systems such as supermarkets. The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) and the EIA recognize the role of incentive programs in supporting the adoption of low-GWP refrigerants. Both NASRC and EIA believe the program would complement other regulatory efforts to accelerate emission reductions from HFC refrigerants while supporting energy efficiency gains, since many low-GWP alternatives outperform HFC systems.

“In order to be successful, it is critical for low-GWP regulations to go hand-in-hand with incentives or other financial mechanisms to reduce the burden on end-users,” said Danielle Wright, executive director, NASRC Equipment and technologies. “Using low-GWP refrigerants still face many barriers. This incentive program could act as a catalyst to drive dramatic market transformation not just in California but across the nation.”

Hearings on the bill will be scheduled beginning in late March or early April of 2018.

Publication date: 3/7/2018

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