Reducing air conditioning's environmental impact is essential to our survival

With the number and intensity of heat waves on the rise, experts estimate that the world will need 1.3 billion more air conditioners by the year 2050. Two faculty members from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health urge that hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants, known as HFCs, no longer be used in air conditioners to help reduce global warming.

HFCs, a potent greenhouse gas, were a “regrettable substitute” for ozone-depleting refrigerants that were banned in 1987 as part of the Montreal Protocol, according to a July 30, 2018 opinion article in The Hill by Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, co-director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE), and director of the Healthy Buildings program, and Jose Guillermo Cedeño-Laurent, research fellow and associate director of the Healthy Buildings program. Eliminating HFCs from air conditioners could avoid 0.5°C of global warming by the end of the century, they wrote.

Allen and Cedeño-Laurent called for the U.S. to ratify a 2016 amendment to the Montreal Protocol—the Kigali Amendment—which calls for an 80% reduction in global HFC use by 2030. The Trump administration is currently considering whether to support it.

“U.S. manufacturers want it. Businesses want it. Legislators from both sides of the aisle want it. And our health depends on it,” the authors wrote.

Read the full article here from The Hill: Want air conditioning and a healthier planet? Here’s one step we can take today

Source: The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, July 2018

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