EPA Moves to Usher in Climate-friendlier Consumer Products Free from Super-polluting HFCs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Environmental Protection Agency today proposed new rules that will hasten the transition away from super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to climate-friendlier alternatives in refrigeration, air conditioners, heat pumps, insulation and aerosols.

“This welcome move by EPA will speed up the transition from powerful climate-warming HFCs to next generation alternatives in dozens of products that consumers and businesses buy, from aerosol cans to air conditioners and heat pumps,” said Alex Hillbrand, a senior advocate in the Climate & Clean Energy and International programs at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council.) “It’s a win-win: climate-warming emissions will fall significantly, and consumers will get better, money-saving products.”  

The EPA’s action builds on petitions filed last year by NRDC and others calling for specific bans on products using HFCs. The petitions called for the agency to use authority Congress granted in the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, enacted in December 2020, to shift appliances and other key products away from HFCs. Pound for pound, HFCs warm the climate hundreds to thousands of times more than carbon dioxide.

The EPA proposal covers a wide range of products and processes where climate-friendlier alternatives are available. Under the new rule, products will be redesigned by 2025 or 2026 to use HFC-free alternatives or less damaging HFCs.

These rules to move products away from HFCs will supplement the phase down of overall HFC supply under the AIM Act. Today’s move goes beyond what the law's phasedown schedule requires, avoiding additional HFC emissions equivalent to 134-903 million tons of carbon dioxide and saving consumers and industry an extra $5-8 billion through 2050.

Further Background:

The AIM Act requires the EPA to phase down HFC production and import 85 percent over the next 15 years and to ban HFC uses that have ready alternatives. It also calls on EPA to issue regulations on management and handling of HFCs meant to limit their emissions and promote their reclamation and reuse.

In April 2021, NRDC and other AIM Act allies filed petitions asking to transition major end-uses away from HFCs in a timely manner. EPA granted those petitions in October 2021. Today’s proposed rule is the next step towards final rules to transition dozens of products away from HFCs.

The petitions covered a wide range of end uses including cooling equipment such as commercial and residential refrigeration, car and building air-conditioning, heat pumps, and other HFC uses such as aerosols and insulation foams. In addition to NRDC, NGO petitioners included the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Additional petitions were filed by a state coalition led by California, as well as industry trade groups such as the Air-conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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