WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a momentous rulemaking that will prohibit high-global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from being used as alternatives under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program. By avoiding an estimated 78 – 101 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2eq) in 2030, which is equal to annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from nearly 21.3 million cars, the EPA’s rulemaking will have a significant impact on mitigating climate damaging GHG emissions.
EIA has long been an advocate of the EPA taking action to prohibit high-GWP HFCs under the SNAP program and applauds the EPA on taking this important step. In 2012, EIA petitioned the EPA to change the listing status for certain high-GWP HFCs, as well as having filed joint petitions in 2010 and 2012 with other environmental groups. Today’s rulemaking represents an important milestone in ongoing efforts to phase out HFCs globally.
“This rulemaking is a significant step forward in the fight against climate change,” said Lisa Handy, Senior Policy Advisor at EIA. “By reducing these amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA is showing continued leadership, both by supporting President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and serving as an example to industry leaders. Not only will this rulemaking limit emissions of high-GWP HFCs, it will also promote transitions to energy efficient low-GWP systems.”
The rule notes that there are energy efficient equipment models already available on the market that use acceptable refrigerants, unaffected by this rule and compliant with new U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards. The EPA specifically cites case studies on the energy efficiency gains being achieved by low-GWP refrigerants including CO2, propane, and isobutane in refrigeration applications.
The rule will eliminate HFC-404A, which has a GWP of 4,000 compared to CO2 with a GWP of 1. HFC-404A is commonly used in supermarket refrigeration systems, which are the single largest sources of HFC emissions. This announcement may invigorate U.S. industry, and particularly the supermarket industry, to catch up to the global market of low-GWP systems and complement the EPA’s leadership by quickly transitioning to these energy efficient, low-GWP alternatives.
“Today’s announcement is indicative of the global momentum that’s building prior to the Open-Ended Working Group to the Montreal Protocol this month and the annual meeting of the Montreal Protocol in November,” said Mark W. Roberts, EIA Senior Counsel and International Policy Advisor. “The news reaffirms the serious global need to phase out these super greenhouse gases and domestic action by the U.S. is crucial to transition to climate-friendly alternatives.”
As countries around the world are increasingly signaling support of an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs, the EPA’s rulemaking is a significant step in supporting those efforts. EIA congratulates the EPA on this step and looks forward to continued progress in prohibiting high-GWP HFCs and listing climate-friendly alternatives under the SNAP program.