Fluorinated Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-GHGs) include the most potent and longest lasting greenhouse gases emitted by human activities. The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) covers emissions of these compounds by requiring specific facilities that emit significant quantities of these compounds to report their annual emissions. These emitters include producers of fluorinated gases and other emitters of these gases. The GHGRP also requires companies that supply these compounds (i.e. producers, importers and exporters) to report the quantity of each gas supplied each year.
The following diagram explains the types of facilities required to report fluorinated greenhouse gas data to the GHGRP.
What are producers, suppliers, and other emitters?
- Producers: These facilities emit fluorinated greenhouse gases during production of fluorinated chemicals for industrial and commercial use. Thus, many of these facilities are both emitters and suppliers of fluorinated GHGs.
- Suppliers: These companies report information about the GHGs that they supply to the economy. Suppliers report the GHGs that would be emitted if all products produced, imported, and exported were released to the atmosphere by their customers. Data reported by suppliers of these gases is important because most emissions of these compounds take place from small pieces of equipment (refrigerators, air conditioners, etc.) whose direct emissions are not reported to the GHGRP.
- Other emitters: These facilities either:
- Generate fluorinated greenhouse gases as unintentional by-products of industrial processes (e.g., aluminum production); or
- Receive and subsequently use fluorinated greenhouse gases in certain manufacturing processes (e.g., electronics). Some fluorinated greenhouse gases are unintentionally released from these manufacturing processes.
Facilities with fluorinated gas production processes must report to the GHGRP if their emissions, in the absence of controls, would equal 25,000 metric tons CO2e per year or more, with one exception: any facility that produces hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-22 must report if the production process generates hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-23 as a byproduct. In addition, facilities that operate devices to destroy more than 2.14 metric tons of HFC-23 annually must report. (Note that production facilities, like other facilities reporting to the GHGRP, can cease reporting if their emissions or supplies consistently fall below certain levels for certain numbers of years. Please see the Subpart A Information Sheet or this FAQ page. )
The five main types of fluorinated GHGs are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and other fully fluorinated greenhouse gases. These fluorinated GHGs can be emitted from fluorinated gas production as by-products, reactants, intermediates, or products, and from process vents, leaks, container venting, or destruction processes.
HFCs are primarily used as refrigerants, foam-blowing agents, aerosol propellants, solvents and fire suppressants. HFCs, among other compounds, are substitutes for chemicals that deplete the Earth’s protective ozone layer (e.g., chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), HCFCs and halons). These ozone-depleting chemicals are not reported under the GHGRP but are covered by EPA regulations at 40 CFR Part 82 (see https://www.epa.gov/ozone-layer-protection).
The chart below shows reported emissions from producers, by gas, over time. Emissions fell by 9.7 MMT CO2e between 2011 and 2016 due to increases in voluntary emission controls at facilities (e.g., use of destruction devices) and some variation in the types and quantities of fluorinated gases produced.
Suppliers of GHGs include producers, importers, and exporters of industrial gases (including F-GHGs) and importers and exporters of F-GHGs in pre-charged equipment (e.g. air conditioners, circuit breakers) and closed-cell foams. All producers must report. Additionally, companies that import or export 25,000 metric tons CO2e or more of F-GHGs, N2O and CO2 per year, either in bulk or in pre-charged equipment and closed-cell foams, must report their imports and exports. For more complete information on reporting requirements for suppliers of fluorinated greenhouse gases, see the Subpart OO and Subpart QQ resource pages.
Quantities (Net Supply) of GHGs Reported
(Quantities are presented in million metric tons per year of net CO2ea)
|Saturated HFCs in bulk, excluding HFC-23||235c||241c||227c||278c||254c||264||240d|
|Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) in bulk||b||b||35c||b||b||b||b|
|Imports and exports of Saturated HFCs in products and foams||N/A||7.39||17.7||16.6||24.6||26.2||28.1|
|a Net supply or net CO2e means CO2e quantities of bulk gas produced + imported – exported – transformed – destroyed.
b EPA is investigating whether these reported quantities may be aggregated and released to the general public.
c As of 8/15/15.
d As of 12/8/17.
All other values are as of 8/5/17.
Bulk gas suppliers and importers and exporters of equipment containing fluorinated GHGs also report quantities of other fluorinated GHGs supplied (not shown).
Fluorinated greenhouse gases are emitted from manufacturing processes for aluminum, magnesium, electronics (e.g. semiconductors), and electrical transmission and distribution equipment. Fluorinated greenhouse gases also are emitted as gas leaks during the filling, use, and servicing of electrical transmission and distribution equipment, which use SF6 for electrical insulation. Manufacturers of magnesium, manufacturers of electronics, and manufacturers and users of electrical transmission and distribution equipment that exceed the applicable reporting threshold must report to the GHGRP. All aluminum manufacturing facilities are required to report.
The chart below shows the quantity of each type of fluorinated greenhouse gas reported by each industry that reports direct emissions and the number of reporters in that industry, excluding F-gas producers (discussed above).
For 2016, reported fluorinated greenhouse gas emissions from these other emitters were about 10.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMT CO2e).
 One exception is HFC-23, which is primarily emitted as an unintentional byproduct from the production of HCFC-22 and other F-GHGs.
- GHGRP Website
- GHGRP Data Highlights pages have F-GHG information by industry sector:
- FLIGHT (search for reporting facilities by location or industry sector)
- Envirofacts (download all data reported by these facilities)
- U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Explorer