Senator Ricardo Lara Proposes California Cooling Act to Combat ‘Silent Assassin’ of Greenhouse Gases in Refrigerants and Air Conditioners

November 14, 2017

Legislation will build on Super Pollutant Reduction Act of 2016 to reach tough new standards for cutting emissions

BONN, GERMANY – Today, at the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference, California Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) proposed legislation to reduce dangerous gases in refrigerants and air conditioners that are the fastest growing source of greenhouse emissions in California and around the world. 

Commonly known as hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs or F-gases, these super-pollutants can be thousands of times more powerful than CO2. They disproportionately contribute to global warming and the type of extreme weather events that California has been experiencing in recent months.

Experts predict that a global HFC phase down will help 0.5ºC of warming by 2100. Reducing these emissions will have a significant impact in the fight against climate change. 

“The super pollutants inside air conditioners and refrigeration are like a silent assassin that threatens our global climate, and California is sounding the alarm about the threat they pose,” said Senator Lara. “The California Cooling Act will help businesses and residents leave behind HFCs and support American manufacturers who are leading the way toward safer chemicals that do not contribute to global warming.”

The California Cooling Act will maintain the momentum around reducing HFCs, including incentives for businesses and residents to switch to low-polluting air conditioning and refrigeration. The legislation will be introduced in 2018.

Senator Lara authored the Super Pollutant Reduction Act of 2016, which pledged California to reduce HFCs by 40% below 2013 levels by 2030. Senator Lara and Governor Jerry Brown accepted the first ever Climate and Clean Air Award at the United Nations Climate Conference in Germany on Nov. 12 for taking bold action on HFCs and other pollutants.

"Replacing HFCs with alternative technologies is one of the best opportunities we have today to simultaneously address climate change and sustainable development,” said Helena Molin Valdes, Head of the UN Environment hosted Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat. “This bill will help speed the transition away from these unnecessary and environmentally-damaging refrigerants while creating new opportunities for job creation and growth.”

“Senator Lara’s bill to curb the super heat-trapping HFCs is a big step for climate protection,” said David Doniger, Director of the Climate and Clear Air Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “California can lead the way in these days of darkness from Washington.”

“HFCs are America’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and there are natural refrigerant-based technologies available today – in residential, commercial and industrial applications – to replace them,” said Marc Chasserot, CEO of shecco America, a global market accelerator for natural refrigerants. “An ambitious California bill, with clear targets, deadlines and incentives, will accelerate the adoption of these solutions – creating green jobs and helping America deliver on its pledges to the Montreal Protocol and the Paris Agreement.”

The Obama Administration clamped down on HFCs in 2015, but the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned the rule after two foreign makers of HFCs sued. While the Trump Administration has not responded to the ruling, U.S. environmentalists and two major chemical companies asked the court to rehear the case.

American companies say they have invested more than $1 billion to replace HFCs.

“If the Trump Administration refuses to defend the HFC rule, it is siding with foreign companies against the interest of Americans and American businesses,” said Senator Lara. “In the absence of federal action, California needs to step in to ensure we protect consumers and businesses and meet the goals in the Super Pollutant Reduction Act.”

About Senator Lara:

Raised in East Los Angeles, Senator Ricardo Lara represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the Gateway Cities of Southeast Los Angeles County and Long Beach. The district also includes the Port of Long Beach and some of the nation’s busiest and most polluted transportation corridors.

Sen. Lara has emerged as one of the most effective environmental champions in California by consistently passing laws that improve health conditions and rein in air pollution affecting all people in the state.

Senator Lara is author of the Super-Pollutant Reduction Act (Senate Bill 1383, 2016), which set the nation’s highest target for reducing short lived climate pollutants, or super-pollutants, that are thousands of times more potent than CO2 and contribute to global warming.

The Super-Pollutant Reduction Act calls for cutting emissions of methane by 40%, hydrofluorocarbon gases by 40% and anthropogenic black carbon by 50% below 2013 levels by 2030. 

Senator Lara also authored Senate Bill 1204 (2014), which created the Clean Truck and Bus program and helped lead the Legislature to approve nearly $1 billion for low-emissions vehicles in 2017 – the largest single investment in clean air in the state’s history.