Fact Sheet Shares ‘Real’ Impact of Refrigerants Promoted as ‘Low-GWP’

By Ilana Koegelenberg, Aug 06, 2021, 09:57 3 minute reading

The document looks at how GWP measures up over 20 years to show the true environmental effect of common refrigerants used today.

An Impact of Refrigerants Fact Sheet – ‘Real GWP: 20 years vs. 100 years’ has been published by the ATMOsphere network and FutureGreenNow, aiming to combat misinformation on the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of popular refrigerants.

The two-page fact sheet, available for download here, features a table of 21 popular refrigerants (including natural refrigerants). It shows the composition of refrigerant blends (where relevant), as well as the global warming potential (GWP) measured over 20 years and over 100 years. The second page includes an explanation of why it is important to measure GWP over 20 years instead of the common 100-year metric.

“End users, manufacturers and policy makers need to see these new numbers before they pick a refrigerant,” said Marc Chasserot, ATMOsphere Founder and shecco CEO. “This choice will have a massive impact on both climate and economy.”

HFCs and new refrigerants such as HFOs and HFO blends are marketed as “climate friendly” because they are not ozone-depleting and have seemingly low GWPs. However, when assessing the real lifetime of these refrigerants, their negative impact on health, safety, and the environment raises concern.

For instance R32, which is being promoted as a “low-GWP” solution, has a GWP of 704 measured over 100 years. However, this gas breaks down in the atmosphere over a much shorter period, and when its GWP is measured over 20 years instead, it is almost four times higher at 2,530. Presenting GWP100 data instead of more accurate GWP20 data is misleading the public as well as policymakers in terms of which refrigerants are in fact truly climate-friendly and sustainable.

“We need to change the perspective of the GWP values of refrigerants — don’t just accept a value showcased as the real impact,” said Wynand Groenewald, CEO of FutureGreenNow, an independent South African CO2 consultancy. “Most refrigerants have a lifespan of around 20 years, so will have its impact on the environment over 20 years and not 100 years. This changes the picture completely, especially when looking at refrigerants sold as ‘low-GWP’.”

“We do not have another 100 years to achieve our 2050 climate neutrality and net zero targets – we need to make changes now. The policies decided in next decade are crucial for reaching these targets and limiting the damage to the environment,” concludes Chasserot.

Download the factsheet

We need to change the perspective of the GWP values of refrigerants — don’t just accept a value showcased as the real impact.” - Wynand Groenewald, FutureGreenNow
Join ATMOsphere to Make an Impact

The fact sheet is the result of the combined efforts of the ATMOsphere network, with a dedicated working group of experts driving the project. ATMOsphere is the world’s first global network for natural refrigerant and clean cooling experts and thought leaders (powered by Slack).

More fact sheets are planned in the future and the ATMOsphere Impact of Refrigerants working group will be meeting before the end of August to work on the second fact sheet.

Industry experts interested in joining the ATMOsphere network on Slack can find more information as well as a link to apply here for access here.

By Ilana Koegelenberg (@Ilana_Ed)

Aug 06, 2021, 09:57

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