Why This Work Matters Now

Tim Brown and Gabe Plotkin

To prevent catastrophic global climate change, we must keep our planet from warming to more than 1.5o C above pre-industrial times. This means that all of us, all over the world, must drastically cut our greenhouse gases emissions. This is the consistent, clear message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.[i]

Unfortunately, we are not on track to meet this goal.  We are releasing more and more greenhouse gases, year over year, not less.  In fact, a record volume of greenhouse gases was released in 2019.[ii]  According to the world’s leading scientists, we have to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 to have any chance of meeting the 1.5o C target.  This requires deep emissions cuts to be in place by 2030.[iii] The job only gets harder every day we delay.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) represents the largest volume of greenhouse gases that we must stop emitting.  But there are also large amounts of other greenhouse gases that heat the planet even more rapidly than CO2. Left unchecked, these high-impact greenhouse gases will contribute to the melting of sea ice in the Arctic, accelerating climate change by 25 years.[iv]  As the Arctic melts methane will be released into the atmosphere at uncontrollable rates.[v] If this happens, there is no way we will meet our goal and save our planet.

In short, the only scenario to prevent catastrophic climate change is to reduce our emissions of both CO2 and even more-potent non-CO2 gases right now.[vi],[vii]

Some of the most important, high-impact greenhouse gases we must target are fluorinated refrigerants.  Chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants (CFCs), for example, are as much as 10,900 times more potent than CO2.  Hydrochlorofluorocarbon refrigerants (HCFCs) are as much as 1,800 times more potent than CO2.[viii]  CFCs and HCFCs, which also deplete the ozone layer, are still in use globally despite bans on their production under the Montreal Protocol in 1987.[ix]  Hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants (HFCs) are also high-impact greenhouse gases that are used all over the world.  While the Montreal Protocol is phasing down the production of HFCs, it’s not happening any time soon.[x]

These potent fluorinated refrigerant gases have long-term climate impacts.[xi] Preventing their release, along with other high-impact gases, will slow warming by 0.6o C by 2050.[xii],[xiii]  That’s why Drawdown, the scientific compendium of climate change strategies, ranks increasing the control and elimination of fluorinated refrigerant gases as the number one approach to reduce global warming that we can all work on above and beyond current policy.[xiv]

The science is clear.  We have limited time to make a big and lasting difference. And there is one straightforward step that we can take right now that will help: control and destroy high impact greenhouse gases – such as CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs – that will otherwise increase the warming of our planet.

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for governments to act. Together, we can make this work happen. Tradewater collects, controls, and destroys fluorinated refrigerant gases so that they do not leak into the atmosphere. Targeting these refrigerants, Tradewater has prevented the release of more than 4,000,000 tons of CO2 equivalent so far. With your help, we can greatly expand collection and destruction efforts all over the world.

Join Us.  

[i] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018). Global Warming of 1.5o C.
[ii] R B Jackson et al 2019 Environ. Res. Lett. 14 121001.  Persistent fossil fuel growth threatens Paris Agreement and planetary health.
[iii] UN Environment Programme (2019). Emissions Gap Report 2019.
[iv] Kristina Pistone, Ian Eisenman, and Veerabhadran Ramanathan (2019). Radiative Heating of an Ice-Free Arctic Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters 46.
[v] National Snow & Ice Data Center. Methane and Frozen Ground.
[vi] Yangyang Xu and Veerabhadran Ramanathan (2017). Well Below 2oC: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangers to catastrophic climate changes.  PNAS 114.
[vii] World Resources Institute (2018). Curbing Climate Change and Preventing Deaths from Air Pollution go Hand-in-Hand.
[viii] Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Global Warming Potential Values.
[ix] ICF (2018). ODS Destruction in the US and Abroad. Prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
[x] UN Environmental Programme. HFC Baselines and Phase-down Timetable (pdf).
[xi] Kirsten Zickfled, Susan Solomon, and Daniel Gilford (2016). Centuries of thermal sea-level rise due to anthropogenic emissions of short-lived greenhouse gases. PNAS 114.
[xii] Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Why we need to act now.
[xiii] World Resources Institute (2018). 3 Charts Explain One of the Most Overlooked Opportunities to Address Climate Change and Poverty.
[xiv] Paul Hawken, ed. (2017). Drawdown. New York: Penguin Books.