HFCs as refrigerant agent replaces the more lethal hydrocholofluorocarbons (HCFC), which is an ozone depleting substance. However, HFCs are s also coming under the lethal category and proving to be a contributor to GWP. Though they don't deplete the ozone layer, but they trap heat and contribute to global warming.
For a while now, the US and other developed nations have lobbied hard for HFCs to be brought under the widely accepted Montreal Convention, which expects HFCs to be phased out by 2020 for developed nations and 2030 for developing nations. Some environmental concern groups worldwide believe that phasing out HCs will reap huge global warming benefits.
Presently, HFCs account for a small portion of the emission basket - about 1 % of the greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say the share could go up to 3% by 2030. According to the United Nationals Environment Programme, HFC emission are expected to be equivalent to 7 - 19% of the CO2 emissions in 2050.
From India's view point, the country has already begun the transition to alternative, less harmful substances. Based on a new report by NRDC titled, “Cooling India through less Warming" there is a strong business case for HFCs to be phased out; and that India already has much of the technology needed to do it.
Several Indian refrigerator makers are already using safer alternatives to HFCs such as R290 and HFC134A. One spokesperson says, “I am using a Daikin AC now which uses an alternative hydrocarbon. It is actually more energy efficient and costs the same as the old one".
According to another spokesperson, there is a great opportunity for developing countries to "leapfrog" to safe hydrocarbons in one go. "20 years ago, developed countries missed the opportunity to transition from HFCs to a safer option, India shouldn't. The fact that HFCs make up only 1% of the greenhouse gases, I do not agree with the research that says they will grow to 18-20%. That's bogus - we should be talking about all F gases, and particularly carbon dioxide. “
Basing the above, not only HFCs, but all those that come under the category of F gases including carbon dioxide - all of these need alternatives and therefore India needs to work on these alternatives to fall in line with the rest of the nations in the world who are attempting to do their bit in reducing HFCs usage as a whole. Any measure taken to protect the environment should become welcome news for all concerned.