EOS Climate: The Refrigerant Revolution

The growing impact of refrigerants on climate change continues to receive unprecedented media attention in The New York Times, Bloomberg and other news outlets. According to scientists at NOAA and U.S. EPA, if current trends continue, by 2050 up to a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions may be tagged to refrigerants use in cooling technologies. Booming demand for air conditioning and refrigeration around the world, especially in developing countries, is increasing consumption of fluorochemical refrigerants, chemicals that contribute to global warming.

Meanwhile, chilling out at home, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) -- pervasive in everything from kitchen refrigerators, supermarket cases, and air conditioning systems in automobiles, homes, and buildings have become the fastest growing climate pollutant in the U.S. Their rate of growth now exceeds that of CO2 emissions. This past summer, the U.S. and other G8 countries committed committed to comprehensive action to reduce growth of HFCs and other short-lived climate pollutants, including methane and black carbon soot.

This fall, EOS Climate and Triple Pundit tackle a series of posts on refrigerants and climate, exploring complexities in depth. Following-up on our piece in 2010, this series will cover the history and current policy backdrop around refrigerants, plus a range of perspectives on the growing challenge from select leaders in government, industry, NGOs and scientific community.

Refreshing Look: Supermarkets Keeping it Climate Cool

image courtesy www.sxc.hu

This week’s post takes a behind-the-scenes look at exemplary refrigerant management among supermarkets, examining drivers for innovation and highlighting best practices and change. We will profile one leading company, and highlight other innovations in the form of engineering solutions, reconfiguration of refrigerant loops, refrigerant management and use of substitutes with no or very low global warming potential. Cool and refreshing, indeed.

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Commercial Scale Refrigerant Management Delivers Rochester a Cool Campus

Cool Campus

With President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreeing, during their first-ever summit, to work together to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol, refrigerants remain very much in the environmental spotlight.

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Refrigerator Recycling: A Tale of Two Fridges

Old coolers await uncertainty

More than 90% of fridges and freezers discarded each year in the U.S. are not properly recycled. This results in dangerous GHG emissions being released into the atmosphere. But proper refrigerator recycling is growing and you can help.

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Refrigerant Revolution: A Cool Future Ahead for AC and a Warming Planet

evolution of cool

As this series has noted, international protocols have only slowly phased out refrigerant gases that are harmful to the ozone layer and climate systems. Meanwhile, slow-to-replace older equipment in the U.S. and developed countries, in addition to new appliances in the developing world — still rely on older pollutants with high global warming potential.

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R-22 Phaseout, Refrigerator Recycling and Q&A from NYTimes’ “Chilling Effect”


U.S. EPA has tried to reduce use of R-22 by imposing strict quotas on its production. Since 2010, the agency has also banned sale of new air-conditioning units containing the compound, and has promoted recycling of the gas from old machines so it will not be released. Despite these efforts, the agency has drawn criticism for not doing enough.

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Refrigerant Revolution: The Policy Backdrop


In this week’s installment, we cover how governments and businesses around the world have approached the problem through regulatory and other policy measures, and what is on the horizon.

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Introducing the Refrigerant Revolution

Global Warming CFCs

This is the 1st in a multi-part article series on refrigerants, their effects as greenhouse gases, and the market-based solutions aimed at their disposal. Safe and effective management of refrigerants has now become a business, environmental and sustainability priority around the world.

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