Preventing emissions of fluorinated refrigerants such as HFCs from “F-gas banks” is the single biggest near-term strategy to reduce greenhouse gases. The IPCC special report on limiting global warming to within 1.5˚C also underlined need for faster and deeper HFC emission reductions beyond those anticipated under full implementation of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
Search, Reuse, and Destroy: How States Can Take the Lead on a 100 Billion Ton Climate Problem outlines policy approaches for U.S. states to take leadership on this major climate opportunity.
End-of-life emissions of refrigerants from retired equipment avoidable in the U.S. are estimated to be 75-80 million metric tons of CO2e annually, equivalent to emissions from 16 million cars. Recovery and destruction of refrigerant banks at end of life is a cost-effective mitigation strategy, costing less per ton than conservative measures for the U.S. social cost of carbon. Leaks are another major source of refrigerant emissions with an average supermarket refrigeration system leaking 25% of its total refrigerant charge annually, equivalent to 1,780 metric tons of CO2e, or emissions of nearly 400 passenger cars annually. As federal EPA regulations on refrigerant management are rolled back, U.S. States must act quickly and decisively to address refrigerant emissions through policies aimed at scaling up refrigerant management, recovery, reclamation, and destruction — a near-term, cost-effective approach that would have immediate and significant climate benefits.