From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published May 7, 2010 06:08 AM

North America to Reduce and Replace hydrofluorocarbons, Potent Greenhouse Gases

The US EPA announced that Canada and Mexico have joined the United States in proposing to expand the scope of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer to fight climate change. The proposal would phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are a significant and rapidly growing contributor to climate change.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) led the analysis in the proposal, which demonstrates environmental benefits equal to removing greenhouse gas emissions from 59 million passenger cars each year through 2020, and 420 million cars each year through 2050. Reducing HFCs would help slow climate change and curb potential public health impacts.

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During the phaseout of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) under the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act, manufacturers of equipment such as car air conditioners and kitchen refrigerators substituted HFCs. The trilateral proposal would phase down HFCs, which are up to 14,000 times more damaging to the Earth’s climate system than carbon dioxide.

Even though efforts over the past decade have reduced emissions, global atmospheric concentrations of HFCs continue to increase. Without this proposal, HFC use in developing countries is anticipated to grow substantially, driven both by increased demand for refrigeration and air-conditioning and because HFCs were developed as alternatives to ozone depleting substances.

Signed in 1987, the Montreal Protocol is a treaty with 196 countries to help restore the ozone layer by ending the production of ozone-depleting substances and now potentially phasing down HFCs.

EPA will propose four refrigerants as possible substitutes in U.S. household and commercial refrigerators and freezers. These hydrocarbon-based coolants would replace existing refrigerants that harm the stratospheric ozone layer and the climate system. The proposal lists isobutane, propane, HCR-188C, and HCR-188C1 as potentially acceptable substitutes for the ozone-depleting chemicals CFC-12 and HCFC-22.

For more information: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/intpol/mpagreement.html

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