When people talk about anthropogenic climate change, its typically within the context of carbon dioxide and the energy consumption habits of Americans, because most global warming is the direct result of those two components. But other culprits that are often ignored in discussions of greenhouse gases are hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), a gas that is frequently used in a variety of applications including refrigeration and air conditioning. These gases are actually hundreds or even thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (though they accumulate in much lower concentrations in the atmosphere) so it is important that environmentalists pay attention to these as well.
Recognizing the threat HFC's pose to environmental and public health, the United States and China have reached an agreement to cooperate in the reduction of HFC emissions. The partnership was announced on June 10 just hours after President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Palm Springs, California, over the weekend. The two discussed several matters, not least of which was the growing importance of the two nations joining forces to combat environmental issues, particularly as China becomes an economic powerhouse.
HFC's were actually meant as a replacement for chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), chemicals that were used for industrial purposes but which also depleted the ozone layer. CFC's were phased out by the Montreal Protocol.
"If the largest consumers of HFCs are agreeing to phase down these potent greenhouse gases, other countries should join the consensus and take real action to combat climate change," said Mark Roberts, international policy advisor for Environmental Investigation Agency, in a news release.