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Carbon credit market for HFC-23 racked by fraud

An effort to decrease emissions of the super greenhouse gas HFC-23 has led to a largely-false carbon market that should be eliminated, says the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

HFC-23 is a byproduct of the refrigerant HCFC-22, which is currently being phased out under the Montreal Protocol for its ozone-depleting and greenhouse gas properties. However, the effort to reduce HFC-23 through a carbon market has been hampered by companies in India and China producing extra HFC-23 just so they can capture and destroy it—and receive lucrative carbon funds.

“Indian producers have recently reported revenue from HFC-23 credits to be double the sales of the actual refrigerant HCFC-22,” explains Natasha Hurley, campaigner with EIA, in a press release.

To deal with this fraudulent market, the UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has proposed cutting the allowable emissions credits by two-thirds. However, EIA says this doesn’t go far enough.

“[It] does nothing to fix this absurd subsidy which is not only damaging to the reputation of the CDM but also blocking international efforts to deal with all HFCs cost-effectively under the Montreal Protocol,” Hurley says.

In the US and Europe, manufacturers voluntarily capture and destroy HFC-23, which has a warming potential 1,810 times that of carbon dioxide.

“On balance, HFC-23 crediting has already caused more harm than good for global climate, and clearly the only way to fix the HFC-23 methodology is to eliminate it,” said Samuel LaBudde, EIA senior campaigner.

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