High global warming potential gases

Box divided into different sized squares representing the proportion of each greenhouse gas emitted in Minnesota in 2014

What are the high GWP gases and why are they a concern?

The high global warming potential (GWP) greenhouse gases include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Like other GHGs, these gases trap heat in the atmosphere, but they are hundreds and thousands of times more effective at warming the planet than carbon dioxide (CO2).

High GWP GHGs make up a very small portion of the total greenhouse gas emissions. They are, however, very potent and long-lived, which magnifies their effect.

HFCs and PFCs are used as substitutes for the ozone-depleting chemicals that are now restricted under the Montreal Protocol of 1987. These gases are used in a wide range of manufacturing plants and consumer products such as:

  • Automobile and home air conditioners
  • Refrigerators
  • Propellants in consumer aerosol products like aerosol paint, personal care products, tire inflators, party spray (foam strings), air horns
  • Spray foam insulation and other foams
  • Electric power transmission

Emissions of these chemicals are only a result of human activities. They are released  through direct use or unintentionally as an industrial byproduct. These chemicals are very stable and remain in the atmosphere for a very long time, so the concentrations of these potent GHGs will continue to rise for as long as they are in use.

High GWP GHG reporting requirements

Minnesota is collecting information about certain high GWP gases and their uses. (Minn. Stat. § 216H.11)

For further information, contact Anne Claflin at 651-757-2277.