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Why It Matters

Refrigerant gases are potential greenhouse gases

When we think about global warming, we usually attribute it to carbon dioxide and methane. But there are several other gases with potential global warming potential. Refrigerants like chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) are prime examples. 

Fluorinated gases like these are contained in refrigerators and air conditioners to absorb and release heat so as to enable chilling. These refrigerants have between 1,000 and 9,000 times greater global warming potential than CO2.

Because scientists in the 1980s found that these refrigerants were responsible for depleting the ozone layer, governments adopted international treaties to phase them out. High-income countries have already started phasing out HFCs in 2019. Some low-income countries will follow suit in 2024, and others in 2028. 

Thanks to the availability of substitutes with much lower greenhouse gas potential like propane and ammonium, this phasing out is expected to be smooth.

Refrigerant management is a necessary solution.

Even with these international agreements in place, refrigerators and air conditioning units that use refrigerant chemicals are still in use, and until countries stop their use, the stock of CFC and HFC in the atmosphere will continue. While refrigerants cause emissions through their life cycles, their damage is biggest at the point of disposal. Without effective disposal, they escape into the atmosphere and cause global warming.

This is where refrigerant management comes into play. Refrigerant management is the recovery, recycling, or the safe and clean destruction of refrigerants at the end of their life. Refrigerants can be purified for reuse or transformed into other chemicals that don't exacerbate global warming. It's costly and technical work, but we need more companies to make refrigerant management standard practice.

Here are the companies making it happen.

In the Climate Index, we take all of the companies that provide refrigerant management that are traded on US stock markets. We take out penny stocks whose share prices were lower than $0.50 in our last update. Then we exclude companies that derive more revenue from fossil fuel-dependent business than they do from refrigerant management.

So the Climate Index includes the companies that are at the forefront of expanding refrigerant management to fight climate change. If you are a Carbon Collective member, you own all of these companies through the Climate Index.

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