UNEP Report Stresses Importance of Addressing HFCs

HFCs: A Critical Link in Protecting Climate and the Ozone Layer21 November 2011: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a report titled “HCFs: A Critical Link in Protecting Climate and the Ozone Layer,” on the importance of addressing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The report is part of a series of three reports being released by UNEP in the lead-up to the Durban Climate Change Conference.  

According to UNEP, urgent action is needed to phase-down the use of HFCs, chemicals increasingly being used in products such as air conditioners, refrigerators, fire-fighting equipment and insulation foams. HFCs are common replacements for ozone-depleting substances (ODS) that are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

According to the report, HFCs could be responsible for emissions equivalent to 3.5 to 8.8 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2eq) by 2050, an amount comparable to total current annual emissions from transport, estimated at around 6-7 Gt annually. The report suggests several options for reducing the impacts of HFCs including: alternative methods and processes, for example through improved building design that reduce the need for air conditioners; the use of non-HFC substances, such as ammonia or dimethyl ether for use in foams, refrigeration and fire protection systems; and climate-friendly HFCs with shorter atmospheric life-times, such as HFC 1234ze in foams and HFC-1234yf for mobile air-conditioners.

The report was released on the sidelines of the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9) to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the 23rd Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP 23), currently convening in Bali, Indonesia. [UNEP Press Release] [Publication: HFCs: A Critical Link in Protecting Climate and the Ozone Layer] [IISD RS coverage of COP 9/MOP 23]