Hydrofluorocarbons

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Learn more from the Center for Media and Democracy's research on climate change.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are used for refrigeration, air conditioning, foam blowing, aerosols and fire extinguishing. HFCs are primarily used to replace ozone depleting substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol.

Hydrofluorocarbons and negotiations over a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement

At the time of the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol only some hydrofluorocarbons were included amongst the key gases to be controlled. (See Greenhouse gases omitted from the Kyoto Protocol for more details).

Ahead of the negotiation of the successor agreement to the protocol, the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have sought comments from governments on whether additional hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) should be included in a new agreement. In particular, they drew attention to those which have been assigned Global Warming Potential values by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their Third and Fourth Assessment Reports.

The IPCC states that human-made HFCs, "are very effective absorbers of infrared radiation so that even small amounts of these gases contribute significantly to the [radiative forcing] of the climate system."[citation needed]

In a submission to the UNFCCC, the Australian government summarised the the uses and sources of the HFCs under consideration as being[1]:

"Use of HFC-245fa and HFC-365mfc is largely confined to countries that have phased out HCFC-141b in foam blowing applications. HFC use will likely increase as a result of the Montreal Protocol HCFC adjustment in 2007. There is significant potential for mitigation of these gases in the long term through the use of alternatives such as hydrocarbon, CO2, and methyl formate."
"HFCs 152, 161, 236cb, and 236ea do not appear to be components of common refrigerant blends, nor do they appear to be used as common fire suppression gases or foam blowing agents, though they could find future use in these applications."

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References

  1. Australian Government, "Paper No 1B: Views on the coverage of greenhouse gases: Submission to the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP", August 21, 2008. (This material is in the submission on page 7 of the submissions collated by the UNFCCC.)

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