Promoting HFC Alternative Technology and Standards

Enter Title

Residential, commercial, and industrial air conditioning and refrigeration account for an estimated 47% of global HFC emmissions

The Challenge

HFCs are potent greenhouse gases used as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances (ODS) being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. Atmospheric observations show that the abundance of HFCs in the atmosphere is increasing rapidly. The emissions of high-GWP HFCs are increasing very rapidly at about 10-15% per year. The recent growth in emissions of HFCs at 8-9% per year is notably greater than the recent increases of about 4% per year in the case of CO2 and about 0.5% per year in the case of methane.

If no measures are taken, HFCs have been estimated to amount to 9-19% of total CO2 emissions by 2050.

What the CCAC is Doing

Under the HFC Initiative, Coalition Partners are currently supporting the development of HFC inventories and studies, information exchange on policy and technical issues, demonstration projects to validate and promote climate-friendly alternatives and technologies, and various capacity-building activities to disseminate information on emerging technologies and practices to transition away from high-GWP HFCs and minimize HFC leakages.


The HFC Initiative's overall objective is to significantly reduce the projected growth in the use and emissions of high-GWP HFCs in coming decades relative to business as usual scenarios.  More specifically, it aims to mobilize efforts of the private sector, civil society, international organizations, and governments, with a view to:

  • Promote the development, commercialization, and adoption of climate-friendly alternatives to high-GWP HFCs for all relevant industry sectors;
  • Build international awareness and support for approaches to curb HFC growth, such as a global phase-down of HFC consumption and production under the Montreal Protocol and commitments/pledges by CCAC Partners;
  • Encourage national, regional and global policies or approaches to reduce reliance on high-GWP HFCs and support the uptake of climate-friendly alternatives;
  • Overcome barriers that limit the widespread introduction of these climate friendly technologies and practices, including those related to the establishment of standards; and 
  • Encourage the responsible management of existing equipment and better designs for future equipment in order to minimize leaks.


HFC inventories in developing countries

Six inventories on HFC use in developing countries are underway or have already been completed. These inventories provide detailed information on HFC use in the countries concerned, projected use up to 2020, and policies and technologies which could be considered to address the growth of HFC use.

Technology workshops and conferences

Three technology workshops or conferences addressing the availability and emergence of alternative technologies and practices have been held so far.  These events, organised on the margins of major Montreal Protocol meetings, gathered hundreds of stakeholders, including policymakers and National Ozone Unit officers, and members of industry, environmental non-governmental organizations, academia, and intergovernmental organizations.

Case studies on alternatives to HFCs in supermarket refrigeration

Case studies on alternatives to HFCs in supermarket refrigeration have been prepared and assembled in a booklet entitled, Low-GWP Alternatives in Commercial Refrigeration: Propane, CO2 and HFO Case Studies. The case studies provide an overview of different types of centralized commercial refrigeration systems as well as an in-depth technical look at five supermarket stores located in diverse geographic locations and climates that use alternative technologies to refrigerate products.

Future Actions

HFC Inventories

HFC inventories seven additional developing countries will be supported to prepare HFC inventories. The inventory information of these activities will be shared amongst partners.

Technology demonstration projects

Three projects have been approved to demonstrate emerging low-GWP HFC alternative technologies in Jordan, Chile and India, as well as a technology feasibility study in the Maldives. The aim of the demonstrate projects is to test and validate the new technologies, with a view to enabling their wider adoption globally, and particularly in developing countries.

Capacity building:

  • HFC-Ville: An online, interactive village to provide information on HFC consumption and alternatives will be launched soon. This tool will help users expand their knowledge and understanding of HFC uses and alternative uses.
  • A second set of case studies will be developed focusing on more successful cases where climate-friendly alternatives to high-GWP HFCs are used.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)?

HFCs are man-made fluorinated powerful greenhouse gases rapidly building up in the atmosphere. They are used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances (ODS) in air conditioning, refrigeration, foam-blowing, fire suppressions solvents, and aerosols

Why is it important to reduce HFCs emissions?

The demand for air-conditioning, refrigeration, and insulation foams is increasing as wealth increases, particularly in many developing countries and emerging economies. In addition, HFCs are still replacing some ozone-depleting substances being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. The combined impact resulting from these two factors mean that HFCs will become an increasing threat to the climate if no action is taken

What are the impacts of HFCs emissions?

Like the ozone-depleting substances they replace, most HFCs are potent greenhouse gases. Though they represent a small fraction of the current total greenhouse gases, their warming impact is very strong, and their emissions are projected to increase nearly twentyfold in the coming decades if replacement substances are not introduced.  The most commonly used HFC is HFC-134a. HFC-134a is 1,430 times more damaging to the climate system than carbon dioxide. If HFCs substitute in all the uses that were dominated by the ozone-depleting substances, then emissions of HFCs will increase so much that they will offset the climate benefit achieved by phasing out ozone-depleting substances.

What is the HFCs consumption by sector?

At the global level, there is not a detailed breakdown of HFC consumption by sector. However, in 2010, it was estimated that the consumption by sector was:

47% - residential, commercial, and industrial air conditioning and refrigeration;
24% - mobile air conditioning;
8% - unitary air conditioning;
11% - foam agents;
5% - aerosols; and
5% - fire extinguishing and solvents.

What are non-climate benefits from HFCs emission reductions?

Replacing high-global warming potential HFCs with low-global warming potential alternatives could increase energy efficiency, as replacement technologies are often optimized for more energy efficient use. In warmer climates, air conditioners account for a large fraction of the load on the electricity system during peak use hours, so improved efficiency offers a significant opportunity to reduce energy use.

Who is Involved?

Learn about Lead Partners, Partners and Actors working together to mitigate HFCs from various industries.

Featured Event

Advancing Ozone & Climate Protection Technologies: Food Cold Chain workshop

21 November 2015 (Montreal, Canada)

The workshop, organized by UNEP, CCAC, the US government, the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and the Global Food Cold Chain Council, will provide an opportunity to share information and expertise on technologies and policy measures with a focus on the food cold chain -- how we bring food from farm to market. There are climate-friendly alternatives to ozone-depleting substances and high-global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in each part of the cold food chain where refrigeration is necessary. The food cold chain represents about a fifth of all HFCs use today, and the use of HFCs is expanding.

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