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EOS Climate: The Refrigerant Revolution

The growing impact of refrigerants on climate change continues to receive unprecedented media attention in The New York TimesBloomberg 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.