Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a major contributor to climate change with certain HFCs 10,000 times more damaging than carbon dioxide. HFC use jumped in the 1990s after Freon was banned because of its damage to Earth’s ozone layer. Major companies traded one harmful coolant for another.

This week, the White House announced voluntary commitments from several large chemical firms and retailers based in the U.S. The commitment? Ditch R-134a (a HFC) and similar compounds quickly. Companies will have some time to find alternatives before the HFCs are completely removed.

The Washington Post reports, “the measures would have an impact equivalent to removing 15 million cars from the nation’s highways for a decade, according to an administration official familiar with details of the plan.”

The White House isn’t just looking at HFC use at home. The Obama administration will also encourage trading partners around the globe to curtail their use of environmentally harmful coolants.

How many companies have joined this initiative? The biggest is a group of chemical manufacturers that make up nearly 100% of U.S. production of HFCs. These companies have agreed and are expected to announce replacement coolants soon.

Coca-Cola threw its name behind the initiative as well. According to the Washington Post, they are expected to announce a goal to buy only refrigerators and cooling systems that are free of HFCs.

Curtailing HFCs is a big move in improving the cutting back greenhouse gases without breaking the bank. Still, more will need to be done. Viable alternative energy sources need to be found. And, it’s not just for the environment either. Fossils fuels won’t last forever at the rate the world is going through them.

We’ll see how successful President Obama is with other countries when he attends the United Nations Climate Summit in New York this week. G-20 leaders have lent their support to cutting the consumption and production of the harmful coolant.

Image credit: PiccoloNamek / Wikipedia


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