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EPA Announces Proposal to Reduce Use of Harmful HFCs

The Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled a proposal to expand the list of acceptable substitutes and prohibit the use of certain chemicals in the United States that significantly contribute to climate change where safer, more climate-friendly alternatives exist. The proposal forms part of President Obama’s climate action plan, which aims to reduce hydrofluorocarbon emissions from air-conditioning, refrigeration and other equipment. The proposed rule would cut HFC emissions by up to 11 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030, which is equal to the emissions from the energy used by approximately one million homes during any given year.

The proposal would expand the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy programme list of climate-friendly alternatives and change the status of certain higher-global warming potential substances that were previously listed as acceptable by:

  • listing as acceptable, subject to conditions to ensure safe use, propane and HFO-1234yf in specific end-uses in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, and a new fire suppression agent for streaming and total flooding uses on aircraft;
  • listing as unacceptable certain flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants and HC blends for retrofitting existing residential central air conditioning equipment that was designed for non-flammable refrigerants;
  • listing as unacceptable propylene and the HC blend R-443A in specific end-uses in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector; and
  • modifying the listing status for certain high-GWP alternatives for certain end-uses in refrigeration and air conditioning (e.g., chillers and household refrigerators), foam blowing and fire suppression and explosion protection sectors, and for methylene chloride for certain end-uses in the foam blowing sector.

The EPA notes that its actions under the SNAP programme have been instrumental in ensuring U.S. compliance with the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty through which all countries have agreed to reduce the use of chemicals that are known to harm the earth’s atmosphere.

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