My students often ask me questions about the fluorinated gases, or “F-gases” regulated under the Kyoto Protocol (hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride). While the impacts of the “big three” gases in the Kyoto basket are obviously much greater, a recent article in an excellent new journal, Greenhouse Gas Measurement & Management, suggests that their influence will increase over the course of the next forty years. Among the take-aways from the article:
- Global emissions of fluorinated gases are projected to be 4 Gt CO2 equivalent in 2050 absent mitigation measures, with the greatest share of F-gas emissions coming from the commercial refrigeration sector (41%);
- The contribution of F-gases to warming are projected to increase from 1.3% in 2004 to 7.9% of projected global direct carbon dioxide emissions of 50 GtCO2 equivalent;
- The share of emissions of Kyoto F-gases in worldwide total greenhouse gas emissions are projected to be 5.9% in 2050
- In the business as usual scenario, developing countries will account for 75% of total emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases in 2050;
- Due to their high global warming potential, HFCs, introduced as an alternative to HCFCs, an ozone depleting substance, will ultimately need to be phased out in favor of substances with low or zero global warming potential. Developing countries should look at alternatives that replace ozone depleting substances with substances that both reduce ozone depletion and are climate-friendly; this can include hydrocarbon, ammonia and carbon dioxide technologies used in supermarket refrigeration utilized in several European nations currently.
This is a good piece to remind students about the needs/opportunities to address F-gases in the context of climate mitigation policy; moreover, it affords instructors a good opportunity to discuss the interface of the Montreal Protocol and the UNFCCC.