Washington, D.C.: Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new actions continuing the implementation of the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act which phases down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in alignment with the Kigali Amendment. A final rule sets standards restricting HFC use for new products, such as refrigerators and air conditioners. A second proposed rule enhances lifecycle refrigerant management (LRM) requirements to reduce emissions from leaks and increase recovery and reclamation of refrigerants at end of life.
According to the EPA, these two rules are expected to mitigate over 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) by 2050. The announced U.S. actions also come on the heels of the European Union agreement earlier this week to strengthen EU F-Gas Regulations, which includes a total phase-out of HFCs by 2050.
“Today’s final rule sets an ambitious timetable for refrigerants used in heating and cooling equipment to be capped by their climate-damage potential. Meanwhile the proposed rule ensures that the demand for ‘virgin’ HFCs is reduced by incentivizing their reuse. So we are turning off the faucet and mopping up the mess,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, Climate Campaign Director, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA US). “This is a momentous week signaling the beginning of the end to our decades of reliance on these synthetic super pollutants.”
The EPA’s final rule on Technology Transitions mandates the cooling sector’s progression toward climate-friendly alternatives by setting the timelines and global warming potential (GWP) limits above which HFC substances will be prohibited in new refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump equipment as well as foams, aerosols, and fire suppression. The final rule aligns closely with several petitions submitted by EIA and others to replicate California’s HFC restrictions by setting GWP limits of 150 for many refrigeration uses, and 700 for air conditioning and heat pumps.
In parallel, the EPA’s proposed HFC management rule includes proposals for reducing leaks and increasing end of life recovery and reuse of reclaimed refrigerants. Lifecycle management is crucial to support a smooth transition and reduce emissions of the fluorocarbons already installed in equipment and those still yet to be sold under the global HFC phasedown, which amounts to 7 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in the U.S. by 2050.
This proposal is a strong start to unlocking those climate benefits. It expands and enhances the requirements for reducing leaks, bringing a range of smaller equipment containing more than 15lbs of HFC refrigerants under the leak repair and reporting requirements. It also contains innovative proposals for tracking refrigerant cylinders and requiring the use of 100% reclaimed refrigerant in most new appliances and systems still containing HFCs beginning in 2028, ranging from new air conditioners and heat pumps to supermarkets and other commercial refrigeration equipment.
“These actions will bring the U.S. a big step closer toward a climate-friendly future for the cooling sector and achieving a global phase-out of these super-pollutants,” said Christina Starr, Senior Manager, EIA US. “This will spur innovations to how cooling equipment is designed, and how the entire U.S. industry and workforce tracks and handles refrigerants. It also incentivizes companies to take a truly cradle-to-grave approach in setting and meeting their climate targets.”
CONTACTS FOR MEDIA
Avipsa Mahapatra, EIA U.S. Climate Campaign Lead, via [email protected] or +1 (347) 931 0129