USA: The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has introduced new rules to reduce HFC emissions to 40% below 2013 levels by 2030.

The new rules are the first in the US to enact comprehensive measures to ban many HFCs in new equipment, while also tackling existing emissions and venting of refrigerants. It will affect commercial and industrial, stationary refrigeration units, as well as commercial and residential air conditioning units.

Starting 2022, supermarkets will be allowed to only purchase systems using refrigerants with a GWP less than 150. Supermarkets will also have to meet benchmarks for reducing their refrigerant footprint in existing stores by more than half in 2030.

The intent of the new rules is to eliminate the use of very high-GWP refrigerants in every sector that uses non-residential refrigeration systems. Compliance begins for most home air conditioning equipment in 2025.

The news comes as new US president Joe Biden seems set to embrace the worldwide Kigali amendment to phase down HFCs.

Prior to 2018, California was the only state that regulated HFCs. Sixteen other states have now passed legislation, based on California’s rules, or are in the process of doing so.

The rules also signal the beginning of the first refrigerant recycling programme to put responsibility for compliance with manufacturers.

“Until now US policies have only skimmed the surface on these super pollutants,” commented Christina Starr, senior policy analyst with green group the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). “This regulation sets a higher bar for other states and the Biden administration to follow,” she added.

Following the regulation’s approval at this week’s Board hearing, final amendments to accommodate the AC sector change will be subject to a final 15-day notice and comment period before entering into effect early next year.

CARB says it will now move forward immediately with a new rulemaking limiting purchase or use of new high GWP refrigerant, and a partnership with other states and the federal government to design a national programme. California will then work towards 100% refrigerant recovery and recycling.