A greenhouse gas 12,000 times more potent than CO2 is on the rise

January 23, 2020

Since 2014, HFC-23, a greenhouse gas 12,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, has been on the rise. A new study, published in Nature Communications, has found that China and India have led the global rise in emissions, despite efforts to phase out the use of HFC-23.

HFC-23, also called fluoroform, is used in refrigerators and air conditioners and was created to replace chlorofluorocarbons, refrigerants that were found to be particularly dangerous to the ozone.

Since 2014, however, the risks of fluoroform to the environment have become more apparent. Another recent study, for example, discovered that HFC-23 and other refrigerants have caused more than half of the warming and ice melting in the Arctic.

Concerns such as these led to the creation of the Kigali Agreement in 2016. The agreement was created to eliminate the use of HFCs worldwide. To date, 53 countries have ratified the agreement. The United States has not.

Regardless of the refusal of the United States to participate in the Kigali Agreement, it should still ensure the amount of HFC-23 in the atmosphere decreases. However, the Nature Communications study found that HFC-23 reached a new high in 2018. If the Kigali Agreement had been met by China and India, the two largest producers of HFC-23, researchers would have expected to see an 87% drop in emissions.

Researchers on the study suspect the continued rise in gases can be attributed to the Kigali Agreement not being fully met in China. According to Earther, the rising emissions from 2014-2017 totaled the same amount as all emissions from the whole of Spain in 2017.

The researchers plan to conduct other studies to attempt to pinpoint the exact sources of the HFC-23 emissions. The full article from Earther is available here.

A greenhouse gas 12,000 times more potent than CO2 is on the rise