EPA acts to phase out “super pollutants” used in refrigerators

By Shannon Kelleher

US regulators issued a final rule on Tuesday aimed at slashing the use of a highly potent greenhouse gas found in refrigerators and air conditioners.

The move by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will take effect next year, marks the agency’s latest move towards phasing down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 2028.

“This rulemaking is a critical next step in the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious plans to phase down climate super-pollutants and ensure the United States leads the way as countries around the world implement the Kigali Amendment,” Joe Goffman, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said in a press release.

Research suggests rapidly transitioning away from HFCs could help prevent up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100.

The EPA action marks a step towards cutting HFC use to 15% of baseline levels by 2036, as directed under the 2020 American Innovation and Manufacturing Act. The agency’s baseline levels for production and consumption are mostly based on average values from 2011 to 2013. The US goals mirror international ambitions to reduce HFCs laid out by the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

The US began curtailing its reliance on HFCs in 2022, when it reduced production and imports to 10% below baseline levels. The EPA plans to announce two additional regulatory actions later this year.