SB 1206 to Eliminate Most Super–Pollutant HFCs by 2035, Backed by $45 million in State Budget

Sacramento CA— EIA applauds California’s legislature, led by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkely), for finalizing ambitious new legislation (SB 1206) that goes further than any law before toward eliminating super-pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are greenhouse gases with potent climate impacts used primarily in the cooling sector for refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps, as well as in foams and aerosols. Signed into law today by California Governor Newsom, SB 1206 sets a goal to transition the state away from HFCs by 2035 to “no or ultra-low global warming potential alternatives” and reclaimed refrigerants. The state also allocated $45 million in new funding for programs that incentivize and accelerate HFC emission reductions in its recently finalized budget.

“California is now on a clear path toward nearly eliminating HFCs by 2035,” said Christina Starr, EIA Senior Policy Analyst. “This unprecedented new law goes further than any other on the books globally to restrict new HFCs from entering the market. The state is backing this up with significant new financial resources to incentivize and accelerate the transition. It’s a bellwether of how quickly these chemicals are becoming obsolete.”

SB 1206 prohibits entry into commerce, sale, or distribution of HFCs above certain global warming potential (GWP) limits, except those that are reclaimed. These prohibitions begin at a 2,200 GWP in 2025, progressively reducing to 750 in 2035. Sales and distribution of the HFC most commonly used in supermarkets, R404A, will be prohibited from sale in 2025, while the R410A used in most air conditioners will be cut off in 2030.

“This groundbreaking new law paves the way for other states to step up their climate ambition,” said Avipsa Mahapatra EIA’s Climate Campaign Lead. “Piloting ambitious novel approaches at the state level, with funding to match, would be key to raising the bar on accelerating HFC phase-down nationally.”

The bill also requires California government to purchase only reclaimed refrigerants for use public buildings, and directs the California Air Resources Board to undertake additional sector-based regulations requiring a transition to “low or ultra-low GWP” alternatives and conduct an assessment on various aspects to support the transition, including incentives, workforce development, and a robust reclamation system.

The additional $45 million in funding directed to the California Air Resources Board for the next fiscal year to reduce HFCs is divided into $25 million for the F-Gas Reduction Incentive Program (FRIP), and $20 million through the Equitable Building Decarbonization Program. A trailer bill to the state budget, AB 209, also directs the California State Fire Marshall to complete needed updates to state building codes for low GWP alternatives no later than July 1, 2023.

See EIA’s Fact Sheet on SB 1206 for more detailed information on the bill.