Refrigerators and air conditioning units humming along are easy to overlook, but chilling ice cubes is melting the ice caps, in a way you might not expect. The refrigerants, substances used in cooling appliances, emit hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. HFCs have thousands of times the warming capacity than CO2 and they are the fastest growing greenhouse gas.
As we do the critical work of cutting CO2 emissions, we must address these shorter-lived, extremely potent gases that are spurring the climate crisis. Our new Cool It! campaign urges companies to reduce HFCs, and we’re starting with Walmart. A typical supermarket leaks one quarter of its refrigerant every year due to faulty systems. And that really adds up – the Environmental Investigation Agency reports that refrigerant leaks from US supermarkets emit 45 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent every year.
Walmart is one of the world’s largest retailers and supermarkets, but it’s coming up short on refrigerant practices. Walmart has stated that it’s “transitioning away” from refrigerants with high global warming potential but has not released concrete goals on making this a reality in all its stores. There are a few supermarket chains leading on cutting these harmful emissions, but Walmart is not one of them. We are urging Walmart to phase out harmful HFCs, track and repair its refrigerant leaks, and commit to responsible disposal.
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