California Global Warming Solutions Act – An Introduction

Nancy B. Alston

The following explains the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) at summary level with a short introduction to the Stationary Equipment Refrigerant Management Program to be integrated into the AB 32 legislation.

Communicated here is information related to existing and emerging refrigerant gas management, monitoring, tracking, and reporting legislation in order to be effective upon implementation in 2010. As with all other pending legislation, the refrigerant management is still subject to many changes.

The California Global Warming Solutions Act or AB 32 was first passed in 2006 taking effect in 2010, which is a comprehensive directive aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2010.

This goal is derived from the increase of greenhouse gasses in California since 1990. To reverse the pollution of 16 years in the United States in less than 14 years, the legislation aims to cut down greenhouse gas emissions to its 1990 levels.

The Air Resources Board (ARB) approved with an early action measure in curtailing high global warming potential (GWP) GHG emissions through definition of requirements and a new legislation relevant to improved AC/HVAC systems monitoring, regulation enforcement, refrigerant gas use reporting, including the recovery, recycling or destruction of high GWP GHG gases, being part of the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32).

The greenhouse gasses (GHGs) as defined by the California’s AB 32 are identical to those gasses already identified in the Kyoto Protocol and are already being regulated, monitored, and managed by many other countries around the World.

In addition to carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the most widely known GHG, the following gasses are also defined as GHGs with high global warming potential (GWP) carbon equivalent emissions by the AB 32 legislation:

* Methane (CH4): a byproduct of waste decomposition, and natural geological phenomena; Natural gas drilling is the major source of methane.

* Nitrous Oxide (N2O): a pollution from exhausts coming from motor vehicles, processes in industries and other industrial pollutants of the air; like methane, nitrous oxide can also be a product of waste decomposition in nature and agriculture.

* Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6): a gas used for various electrical applications, including gas insulated switchgear. Sulfur Hexafluoride is also being used for applications in experiments.

* Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) & hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs): a collection of commonly used refrigerant and aerosol gasses with a wide variety of other commercial applications.

Some Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) are CFCs and HCFCs which are identified in title VI of the US Clean Air Act (Section 608).

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