By EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to meet with private and public sector leaders to discuss ways we can significantly reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems that contribute to climate change and can be hundreds to thousands of times stronger than carbon dioxide. And their use is increasing—U.S. HFC emissions are expected to nearly double by 2020 and triple by 2030.
I came away from the meeting understanding that American businesses are ready to meet this challenge. At the roundtable gathering, Carrier, a major manufacturer of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, committed to the commercialization of HFC-free refrigerants in road transportation refrigeration by 2020, building on its expertise with HFC-free carbon dioxide refrigerant in marine container and food retail. And Lapolla committed to transitioning its entire foam product line to be high-GWP HFC free by 2016.
When the President delivered his Climate Action Plan last summer, he called on EPA to use its authority under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program to encourage private sector investment in climate-friendly alternatives to high-global warming potential (GWP) HFCs and low-emissions technology. We responded this summer by issuing two SNAP proposals. The first will expand the number of climate-friendly alternatives for refrigeration and air conditioning and the second will prohibit the use of certain HFCs where safer alternatives exist.
I was pleased to announce at the roundtable three new actions EPA will take to further curb HFC emissions. EPA will:
- List additional fluorinated and non-fluorinated chemicals as acceptable alternatives in a variety of industry applications;
- Engage with stakeholders to explore options for consistent refrigerant management for both ozone-depleting refrigerants and HFCs; and
- Organize with the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and other public and private-sector stakeholders a series of sector-specific workshops on transitioning away from high-GWP HFCs.
Reducing HFCs both in the United States and abroad is a critical part of the Climate Action Plan. We know we can’t do it alone. We need to apply the same winning formula that has worked for solving every major environmental challenge: partnership. The good progress we are making on restoring the earth’s ozone layer and addressing climate change would not be possible without the involvement of the international community, industry, NGOs, and scientists. The Montreal Protocol’s success shows us that to solve a global problem a strong public-private sector partnership is needed to unleash innovation and progress.
The roundtable discussion was invigorating and action-oriented. It cemented my confidence that by working together we can create a healthier climate for generations to come.