High GWP Gases
The High GWP gases are part of a family of non-CO2 gases that contribute to global climate change. To learn more about these gases and what EPA is doing to reduce their impact, visit our Non-CO2 Gases page.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) are potent greenhouse gases, and some persist in the environment for thousands of years. These gases, referred to as high global warming potential gases (high GWPs) are from 140-23,900 times more potent than CO2 in terms of their capabilities to trap heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year period. Also, because they remain in the atmosphere almost indefinitely, concentrations of these gases will increase as long as emissions continue.
Emissions of high GWP gases in the US are small relative to other greenhouse gases, accounting for a little more than 2 percent of total emissions in 2007. The majority of emissions of high GWP gases are associated with their use as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances (ODSs), which are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol to prevent the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. Other important emission sources include a variety of industrial processes such as aluminum production, semiconductor manufacturing, electric power transmission, magnesium production and processing, and the production of HCFC-22.
EPA is actively working to reduce emissions of high GWP gases given their potency and long atmospheric lifetimes. Through a set of voluntary partnerships, EPA and industry are making substantial progress in reducing emissions by developing and implementing cost-effective improvements to industrial processes. In addition, EPA's ozone protection regulatory programs are working to limit emissions through mandatory recycling or use restrictions depending on the application.
The following links provide more information on the high GWP gases and EPA's activities in this area:
Find out more about the science behind these gases and on-going research.
- Sources and Emissions:
Find out more about sources and emissions of high GWP gases.
- Projections and Mitigation Costs:
Find future emission projections and the costs associated with reducing high GWP emissions.
- Voluntary Programs:
Learn more about EPA’s existing voluntary programs to reduce high GWP gases.
- Regulatory Programs:
Learn more about EPA’s existing regulatory programs to reduce the substitutes for ozone-depleting substances (ODS).