Phasing Down Climate Potent Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

by Kristine Smukste - 21 August, 2015
Lima - Paris Action Agenda

Why phase down of HFCs matters?

HFCs are potent manmade greenhouse gases used as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances like CFCs and HCFCs being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. HFC use is growing rapidly, increasing by as much as 10-15% per year. Fast action to address high-Global Warming Potential (GWP) HFCs would also improve energy efficiency in refrigeration and air conditioning systems, reducing electricity use and CO2 emissions, along with emissions of the HFCs themselves.

An HFC phase down could prevent warming of up to 0.1°C by 2050 and warming of up to 0.5°C by 2100 , offering one of the most cost-effective climate mitigation strategies available to the world today.


At the Rio+20 summit in 2012, world leaders agreed that the best approach to gradually phase down the production and consumption of HFCs was through the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol.

Alternatives to HFCs are available and/or are being introduced for many uses.Switching to these alternatives would not only lower the climate impact of refrigerant gases, but would also increase the energy efficiency of appliances. This would both save consumers money and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

In many countries, the public sector represents a significant share of the total use of HFCs. Therefore the public sector has a key role in promoting climate-friendly alternatives through procurement policies targeted at reducing high-GWP HFCs and encouraging transition toward energy-efficient, low-GWP alternatives. Some governments are already taking action.


The private sector can also play a major role in addressing HFCs. The Global Food Cold Chain Council (GFCCC), which aims to reduce the use and emissions of high- GWP HFCs and enhance energy efficiency in the cold food chain while minimizing food spoilage, will promote efforts that stimulate the demand for climate-friendly technology and reduce refrigerant emissions in the food cold chain.The Global Refrigerant Management Initiative (GRMI) seeks to identify and explore opportunities to educate the industry on ways to improve the management of refrigerants to reduce leaks and service emissions and to promote the recycling, recovery, reclaiming, and end of life destruction of refrigerants.

Our promise

More than 30 national governments and 24 non-state entities and private sector companies support phasing down climate-potent HFCs. They have committed to:

  • support an amendment to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, while emissions accounting and reporting remains under the UNFCCC;
  • take action to promote public procurement of climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs;
  • support private sector-led efforts, including those to reduce the use and emissions of high-GWP HFCs and enhance energy efficiency in the cold food chain while minimizing food spoilage, as well as those efforts to reduce global emissions from refrigerant servicing by 30-50% within 10 years.

Progress and deliverables in 2015

  • Four separate proposals to amend the Montreal Protocol have been submitted for consideration at the Meeting of Parties in November. The proposed amendments aim to phase down the upstream production and consumption of HFCs (leaving the accounting and reporting of the downstream emissions in the UN climate regime).
  • In March 2015, a Public Procurement Workshop on HFC Alternatives was organized by UNEP and sponsored by United States for Asia Pacific, followed by a webinar on the same topic targeting a global audience in July 2015.
  • A new funding proposal was approved by the CCAC to support more capacity-building activities on alternative technologies and policy in 2015-2016. In addition, the CCAC Secretariat is working with UN offices to develop guidelines for procurement and case studies on successful transition to HFC alternatives in buildings.
  • The founding member companies of the GFCCC have developed bylaws, a budget, initial priority activities, and are meeting regularly.  Additionally, GFCCC is also working to identify linkages with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on steps to link the Food Cold Chain to efforts to reduce global food waste.
  • In November 2015, the CCAC will be co-sponsoring an international policy and technology workshop “Advancing Ozone & Climate Protection Technologies: Food Cold Chain”. This workshop will provide an opportunity to share information and expertise on climate-friendly technologies and policy measures to reduce or avoid the use of high-GWP HFCs in the food cold chain, which includes applications such as supermarket refrigeration, cold storage and transport refrigeration. 

What will be presented at COP21

  • More countries joining this initiative and increased awareness of the high impact of HFCs on the climate, with a goal of building additional support in the Montreal Protocol for the adoption of a Protocol amendment to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs.
  • Advance progress on private-sector initiatives aimed at reducing the use of high-GWP HFCs in the food cold chain and reducing HFC emissions through improved refrigerant management.


In 2016, the HFC Initiative is also planning to sponsor a conference on alternative technologies and supporting policies/standards in the air-conditioning (AC) Sector. The AC conference would bring together suppliers of alternative technologies, major manufacturers and users of AC equipment, and ODS/HFC policy-makers from around the globe, in order to build awareness of how the use of HFCs can be avoided in the future in this key sector, taking into account energy efficiency considerations.



Nation-States: Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Canada, Central African Republic, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Denmark, Dominican Republic, the European Union, the Federated States of Micronesia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Liberia, the Netherlands, the Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Switzerland, Togo, the United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

IGOs, NGOs, CSOs and Others: Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, Australian Refrigeration Association, California Air Resources Board, CEID Colombia, the Centre for Clear Air Policy, Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente, Centro Studi Galileo, The Coca-Cola Company, Danfoss, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Investigation Agency, European Partnership for Energy and the Environment, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, International Climate Change Partnership, International Institute for Sustainable Development, International Solid Waste Association, Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and the Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council , Refrigerants Australia, The Refrigerants, Naturally! member companies, Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation, TERRE Policy Centre, and the World Meteorological Organization.