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E.P.A. to Sharply Limit Powerful Greenhouse Gases: Hydrofluorocarbons, the Earth-warming chemicals used in air-conditioning and refrigeration.

image credit: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/03/climate/EPA-HFCs-hydrofluorocarbons.html

Mark Silverstone's picture
Principal JMP Services AS

30+ years in Oil & Gas IndustryField of Interest: Environmental issues in general; waste management issues in particular. 

  • Member since 2002
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This is long overdue, but more significant than I would have thought:

"The regulation would begin to take effect in 2022 and would gradually reduce the production and importation of hydrofluorocarbons in the United States by 85 percent over the following 15 years. About 15 percent of HFCs would still be permitted because they have critical uses for which alternatives do not yet exist.

The E.P.A. estimated that by 2050 the rule would eliminate the equivalent of 4.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, or about three years’ worth of emissions from America’s power sector. That would help put the United States on a path toward meeting Mr. Biden’s aggressive goal of cutting America’s emissions roughly in half by 2035."

"The E.P.A.’s action is backed by both environmental groups and the business community, which jointly championed bipartisan legislation passed by Congress in December to tackle HFCs."

 

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 4, 2021

Mark, are there suitable alternatives for air conditioning / refrigeration? The question would be whether less-efficient substitutes require so much more energy to get the job done they might create enough CO2 to minimize benefits, or trap even more heat from the sun.

When hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) were replaced with other ,  substances to protect the ozone layer in the 1990s, it was considered a shining example of international cooperation. But producers of aerosol sprays in developing countries are now ignoring those restrctions  - HCFCs just work better. So without some kind of intervention we'll soon be back to where we started.

There's a lesson here: the effectiveness of expensive solutions to global environmental problems will be limited. We can point to the declining price of solar panels and wind turbines all we want, but there's no evidence their adoption lowers the price of electricity. For generating that, coal, gas, and nuclear just work better.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on May 4, 2021

All good questions. Care to answer?

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 4, 2021

which jointly championed bipartisan legislation passed by Congress in December to tackle HFCs.

Always good to see this-- what was the difference, though? Is there simply not an HFC lobbying arm? Or is this action just so 'obvious' that of course it is being taken (and those representatives who aren't typical environmental champions can point to it when their 'green cred' is questioned)?

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on May 4, 2021

Sure, not everyone was on board, as you would expect.  As I said, implementation is everything.

Jay Stein's picture
Jay Stein on May 4, 2021

Nice work, Mark, getting this news out there. For more info on how the HFC phasedown is going to go down, check out my Energy Central post titled The US just passed a law to restrict climate warming refrigerants. Here’s how it’s going to work.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on May 4, 2021

Thanks for explaining a bit about how this is going to work Jay.  It sounds like there is a workable plan.

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