HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) emissions contribute to climate change, and Canada and many other nations are taking a stand to reduce their emissions by 85% in the next 20 years.
HFCs are commonly found in refrigerators, air conditioners, foam products, and other items world-wide. Current global HFC emissions are the equivalent of approximately 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. That is the same as emissions from nearly 300 coal-fired power plants or over 200 million passenger vehicles driven for one year, and it is expected to grow nearly five-fold by 2050 if no action is taken.
In November Canada worked with nations from around the world to implement the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the global temperature increase to well below 2 °C. Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced later that month the proposed regulations to reduce HFCs domestically. These measures would reduce Canada’s annual consumption of HFCs by 85 percent by 2036.
The regulations only apply to new equipment and products manufactured or imported into Canada; existing products are not subject to these restrictions. New products, such as refrigerators and air conditioners, will now be made with more environmentally friendly coolants and technologies, which could increase their energy efficiency and reduce costs.
“HFCs are among the most potent greenhouse gases emitted around the world,” said Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, while announcing the new regulations.
“Canada is already a leader, globally, in efforts to phase down damaging HFCs from refrigerators and air conditioners. By working here at home to phase down Canadians’ use of products containing HFCs, our government is taking real action to fight climate change. The measures announced today will reduce emissions by the same amount as taking almost two million passenger vehicles off the road per year for 23 years.”
Some quick facts about HFC emissions:
- HFCs are the world’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases, increasing by 10 to 15 percent a year.
- Between 2018 and 2040, the proposed Canadian regulations are expected to result in a cumulative HFC emission reductions equivalent to 176 million tons of carbon dioxide. This reduction is like taking almost two million passenger vehicles off the road per year for 23 years.
- Earlier this year, Canada finalized measures to increase the recovery, recycling, and destruction of HFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment and established regulatory provisions for a HFC permitting and reporting system.
- The global HFC amendment to the Montreal Protocol adopted in October 2016, in Kigali, Rwanda, is predicted to avoid up to 0.5 °C of global warming by the end of this century.