To address climate change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a list of alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—gases that are used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire-suppression and ventilation systems for commercial and other types of buildings as well as in cars, aircraft and machinery.
According to the EPA, HFCs are up to 10,000 times more potent that carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change. The agency says phasing down HFCs will help to achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions and could avoid up to 0.5ºC of warming by 2100.
EPA also is prohibiting the use of certain chemicals used by manufacturers and HVAC contractors that would contribute significantly to climate change when less harmful alternatives exist.
“In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, this action will not only result in significant reductions of harmful greenhouse gases, but it expands the options for safer alternatives available on the market,” noted EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement.
EPA’s March 29 announcement is part of the administration’s effort to comply with tentative agreements reached in November 2015 under the Montreal Protocol discussions in Dubai. Since the first Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987, periodic revisions have outlined steps to reduce emissions that harm the earth’s ozone layer.
In Dubai, countries from around the world agreed to reduce the production and consumption of HFCs and, during the November 2016 meeting in Rwanda, work on language for a formal HFC amendment.
EPA will accept public comments for 45 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.