According to the original Project Drawdown, the #1 action for global climate impact is to stop leaks of the refrigerants that are used refrigerators (both in homes and supermarkets), air conditioner appliances and central air systems, heat pumps, chillers, and industrial processes. In homes and businesses, these technologies make people comfortable, and in some cases (such as data centers), they are critical to business operations.
In 2015, refrigerants and similar chemicals represented 5% of New York State’s greenhouse gas emissions. For appliances like air conditioners, an estimated 90% of refrigerant leakage takes place at the point of disposal or recycling of the appliance. But in large scale operations, like grocery stores that use vast amounts of refrigerants, 25% of the refrigerant leaks every year. While the biggest challenges of refrigerant management are in hotter climates and denser population centers, we all need to step up and learn how to reduce this impact.
New Yorkers for Cool Refrigerant Management is an education and advocacy program of SHV that encourages strengthened state and local policies. We have developed an extensive network of expert advocates and educators who track policy and technology on this complex topic. While New York is implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, we believe there is considerable room for strengthening the state’s policies to manage refrigerant emissions through the life cycle of appliances and equipment, and make sure that technicians who handle refrigerants are well trained and accountable.
We have designed a pilot program to educate a community and collect old refrigerators and air conditioners free of charge. We hope to make this available to communities everywhere.