Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Obama seeks faster phaseout of popular coolant in effort to curb greenhouse gases

By Joby Warrick September 15 at 11:59 PM WashPost

The Obama administration is preparing to introduce major steps to phase out production of a popular chemical coolant used in refrigerators and air conditioners, citing growing evidence that the substance is contributing to the warming of the planet.

The White House will announce on Tuesday a series of voluntary commitments by some of the country’s largest chemical firms and retailers to move rapidly away from R-134a and similar compounds used in nearly every office, home and automobile in the country, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the effort.

The administration is simultaneously stepping up diplomatic efforts to encourage major U.S. trading partners to phase out production of the potent greenhouse gas, the officials said. The initiatives are being disclosed in advance of next week’s summit of world leaders at the United Nations to debate options for slowing the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

The class of chemicals to which R-134a belongs — called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs — became popular as a replacement for Freon, the refrigerant banned since the 1990s for damaging the Earth’s ozone layer. Most HFCs are harmless to ozone, but collectively they have become a significant driver of climate change — some are up to 10,000 times as potent per ounce as carbon dioxide, climate scientists say.

(More here.)

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