Written By: Jim Greenberg
Yesterday the European Union reached a deal to reduce the use a group of super global-warming gases known as hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) by 79% by 2030.
By limiting the use of fluorinated gases in refrigerators and air conditioners, the European Union aims to phase out HFCs, known as “super greenhouse gases”, which have a global-warming potential 23,000 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.
Hydrofluorocarbons are maufactured chemicals containing carbon, hydrogen, and fluorine. Their use in the EU has risen by 60% since 1990. Released into the air by production plants and from the disposal or usage of products and equipment that contain refrigerating or cooling capabilities, HFCs remain in the atmosphere for up to hundreds of years, with significant global-warming effects.
Under the agreement, a number of business sectors will be banned from using HFCs in new equipment by 2022. Moreover, from 2020, HFCs that hold very high global-warming potential (GWP), will be banned from being used to service and maintain refrigeration equipment.
Welcoming the deal as a progressive and encouraging move to help fight climate change are the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Brussels-based European Environmental Bureau (EEB).
“This is the beginning of the end for HFCs in Europe—at least now the industries involved will be able to see which way the wind is blowing and invest in cleaner, greener alternatives”, says Clare Perry, Head of EIA’s Global Environment Campaign.
The new agreement currently stands as draft legislation. To become official EU law, it needs to be approved by both Member State Representatives and the European Parliament.
The EU deal follows June’s agreement between the United States and China to work together and with other countries in “phasing down” the use of HFCs.
In a further effort to tackle the environmental impacts of HFCs in cooling, many companies and researchers have been exploring Seawater Air Conditioning (SWAC) systems—air conditioning units that take advantage of cold deep seawater to provide environmentally friendly and cost-efficient air conditioning.