According to the landmark reference on climate change solutions, Drawdown by Paul Hawken, the #1 decarbonization initiative is phasing out HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons), a group of common refrigerants used in air conditioning and refrigeration units. According to Drawdown’s metrics, this initiative could eliminate up to 89 gigatons of atmospheric CO2 by 2050. For comparison, the #20 solution, nuclear power, could eliminate 16 gigatons in the same span.
In light of these numbers, CCA is organizing a coalition of engineers, architects, and contractors who specify and purchase HVAC equipment from manufacturers. In forming this group, we hope to put pressure on manufacturers to eliminate or reduce HFCs to a minimum. This was originally an issue when the ozone hole came to public attention in the 1980s. In response, the Montreal Protocol of 1987 mandated the phasing out of ozone-depleting CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons—by 1996) and HCFCs (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons—by 2020), both of which have been replaced with HFCs. While HFCs are significantly less harmful to the ozone layer, they have 1000 - 9000 times the heat-trapping potential of CO2.
We are hopeful that, because this industry has made a major materials transition before, it can again build the resolve needed to eliminate this monumentally harmful greenhouse gas from their operating standards. What is more, there are many jobs to be created, as well as billions of dollars to be made, by way of this transition. However, there is currently no major pressure group made up of engineers, architects, and contractors that works to convince HVAC manufacturers of the need to take immediate action.
We held an initial organizational meeting in January of 2020, and are in the process of sending a petition to Congress in support of The American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, which would require a robust phase-out of the most harmful HFCs and HCFCs on par with international norms.