Projections of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions and the resulting global warming based on recent trends in observed abundances and current policies

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Volume 22, Issue 9, p.6087 - 6101 (2022)





The emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have increased significantly in the past 2 decades, primarily as a result of the phaseout of ozone-depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol and the use of HFCs as their replacements. In 2015, large increases were projected in HFC use and emissions in this century in the absence of regulations, contributing up to 0.5 ◦C to global surface warming by 2100. In 2019, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol came into force with the goal of limiting the use of HFCs globally, and currently, regulations to limit the use of HFCs are in effect in several countries. Here, we analyze trends in HFC emissions inferred from observations of atmospheric abundances and compare them with previous projections. Total CO2 eq. inferred HFC emissions continue to increase through 2019 (to about 0.8 GtCO2 eq.yr−1 ) but are about 20 % lower than previously projected for 2017–2019, mainly because of the lower global emissions of HFC-143a. This indicates that HFCs are used much less in industrial and commercial refrigeration (ICR) applications than previously projected. This is supported by data reported by the developed countries and the lower reported consumption of HFC-143a in China. Because this time period preceded the beginning of the Kigali provisions, this reduction cannot be linked directly to the provisions of the Kigali Amendment. However, it could indicate that companies transitioned away from the HFC-143a with its high global warming potential (GWP) for ICR applications in anticipation of national or global mandates. There are two new HFC scenarios developed based (1) on current trends in HFC use and Kigali-independent (K-I) control policies currently existing in several countries and (2) current HFC trends and compliance with the Kigali Amendment (KA-2022). These current policies reduce projected emissions in 2050 from the previously calculated 4.0–5.3 GtCO2 eq.yr−1 to 1.9–3.6 GtCO2 eq.yr−1 . The added provisions of the Kigali Amendment are projected to reduce the emissions further to 0.9–1.0 GtCO2 eq.yr−1 in 2050. Without any controls, projections suggest a HFC contribution of 0.28–0.44 ◦C to global surface warming by 2100, compared to a temperature contribution of 0.14–0.31 ◦C that is projected considering the national K-I policies current in place. Warming from HFCs is additionally limited by the Kigali Amendment controls to a contribution of about 0.04 ◦C by 2100.