Environmental impacts of HCFC versus HFCs

HFCs are used as refrigerants and coolants in refrigerators and air-conditioners, in fire extinguishers, furniture making, as solvents for cleaning, and other purposes.

CFCs and later HCFCs were being used for everything that HFCs are used now for, but it was found that these were depleting the ozone layer, which protects life on earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. As CFCs and HCFCs started being phased out, HFCs, which are harmless to the ozone layer, started replacing them.

However, HFCs have a greenhouse gas potential and therefore there is a dire need to phase them out similar to CFCs and HCFCs. However, India suggested to work on this agreement of phase out of HFCs  under Kyoto Protocol, as it was specifically made for reducing greenhouse gasses whereas, Montreal protocol for ODS. But developed countries wanted to opt for Montreal Protocol seeking the urgency of the problem.

If HFCs was added in phase-out program under Montreal Protocol then it would be binding on its signatory members to phase-out HFCs on the other hand if it was added under Kyoto Protocol it would puts “differentiated responsibility” on developed and developing countries to cut down greenhouse gas emissions.

Thus, the Kigali agreement signed recently put legal obligation on all countries to phase out HFCs. The elimination of HFCs could reduce global warming by 0.5 degrees by 2100, according to a 2015 study.

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