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California Refrigerant Regulations

California, through laws enacted by its legislature, is required to reduce HFC emissions 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. To accomplish the emission reduction requirement, California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) has created a first round of regulations that mirror the EPA’s SNAP rule 20, which prohibits higher-GWP HFC refrigerants in commercial refrigeration applications. See the table for a summary of the effect to the most widely used refrigerants.

Refrigerants with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) greater than 150

  • As part of their Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP) reduction program, CARB has publicly stated that they are planning a second phase of regulations that will also affect HFC refrigerants used in commercial refrigeration and air-conditioning.
  • CARB has proposed a prohibition on new commercial refrigeration equipment containing more than 50 lbs. of refrigerant using a gas with a GWP of greater than 150, starting January 1, 2022. In this scenario, new systems with less than 50 lbs. would still be able to use refrigerants like R-448A and R-449A.
  • The proposal also states that new A/C equipment will be prohibited from using any refrigerant with a GWP greater than 750, starting January 1, 2023.
  • Additionally, CARB is also considering banning sales of refrigerants with “very-high GWPs” effective January 1, 2022. The original proposal for the cutoff line for what will be prohibited is a GWP > 1500, but CARB is still considering this limit. Recycled/reclaimed refrigerants above the GWP limit will still be allowed, to encourage better recovery and recycling.
  • AHRI, Hussmann, other equipment manufacturers, and some retailers are pushing CARB to consider higher charge limits for refrigerants greater than 150 GWP. CARB’s board is expected to make decision on these GWP limits in refrigeration and A/C equipment in May 2020.

My customers don’t have any stores in California, so why should I care?

  • The reason is the U.S. Climate Alliance. Other member states have begun enacting refrigerant regulations that are the same as California’s first phase, described above. Washington state and Vermont have already done so, and New York, Maryland, and Connecticut have announced commitments to adopt similar regulations.