The worst greenhouse gases you’ve never heard of....
From Greenpeace's 2009 report "HFCs: A growing threat to the climate" (PDF)
As governments grapple with the urgent task of drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions to avert dangerous climate change, there is a group of little-known but very powerful greenhouse gases which, if left unchecked, could hinder all of our efforts to tackle the issue.
We use these chemicals in our everyday lives for refrigeration and air-conditioning: they cool our drinks, our cars and our buildings.
They are man-made fluorinated greenhouse gases - commonly known as F-gases.
F-gases are thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2). Their major applications are in refrigeration and air-conditioning (where they are used as refrigerants, which accounts for 80% of their
use), foams, aerosols, fire extinguishers and solvents. It is these same heat-trapping properties that make most F-gases such good refrigerants which also make them extremely powerful greenhouse gases.
Developing countries – a growing problem and a huge opportunity
In developing countries, demand for HCFCs - the refrigerants currently in use - increased annually by around 20% between 1989 and 2007.
This increase in refrigerant consumption is set to continue up to, and possibly beyond, 2050. By then, consumption of HFCs in developing countries will be 8 times greater than in developed countries. That
will translate into global consumption of HFCs being up to 3.5 times higher than the peak consumption of CFCs and HCFCs in 1989.
With strong international and national regulation and financing mechanisms, as well as the forward-thinking action of global corporations, the developing world can completely leapfrog HFCs.