The report released recently by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laid out the drastic reductions in coal, oil and gas consumption necessary to avoid catastrophic warming of the planet. But to stave off the most disastrous damage, we need to swear off another product, too: hydrofluorocarbons, better known as HFCs. And banishing them shouldn’t be so hard, relatively speaking.
In a bitter irony, these chemicals, used to cool, have also been driving global temperatures up. Used in refrigerators and air-conditioners since the 1980s, HFCs are extremely potent contributors to the earth’s warming. One HFC, 134a, used in most American refrigerators traps 1,300 times more heat than carbon dioxide does. Another, 410a, used in most American air-conditioners, is worse. Around the world, as more people rely on air-conditioning to cope with severe heat, the HFCs that routinely leak out of appliances and into the atmosphere have become the fastest-growing type of greenhouse gas emitted in every country on earth.
An appeals court ruling written by Brett Kavanaugh has further hampered the fight against these climate-polluting refrigerants.