Companies to freeze HFC use

3rd November 2016

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Kirsty McGuigan

More than 400 global businesses have pledged to stop using hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a greenhouse gas found in aerosols, refrigerants and air-conditioners.

The global warming potential (GWP) of these chemicals is thousands of times higher than carbon dioxide. They are also the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases, increasing by up to 10% each year, said the United Nations Environment Programme.

In October, members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), which includes SABMiller, GSK and Sainsbury’s, pledged to install only equipment that uses natural refrigerants or those with a low GWP.

However, in some countries similar ambitions are hampered by technical and regulatory barriers, such as lack of local maintenance capacity, the CGF said. It plans to engage with suppliers, civil society and governments in these countries to overcome the barriers so that HFC-free refrigerants can be installed everywhere by 2025. CGF members have committed to improving the energy efficiency of existing refrigeration systems and to minimise leaks. Members will set individual targets and report regularly on progress, the CGF said.

Campaign groups welcomed the commitments, but Greenpeace’s Paula Tejon Carbajalsaid many CGF members had continued to use HFCs in new equipment in preference to other solutions.

The CGF pledge came ahead of a global deal on phasing out HFCs agreed by the 197 signatories to the Montreal protocol on ozone layer depletion. Under the latest agreement, there will be a freeze in production and consumption in most countries by the middle of the next decade.

Developed countries will begin the phase-out in 2019, with most developing countries following suit by 2024. By the late 2040s, all countries are expected to consume no more than 15%–20% of their respective baselines. The deal is expected to reduce global levels of HFCs by between 80% and 85% by 2047.

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