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TIP OF THE WEEK: 'Cleaner' chemicals could reduce climate change

The chemicals used in our refrigerators and A/C units trap thousands of times more heat than CO2, so containing them is essential, says local group
2018-06-12 air conditioner
Air conditioner. Photo/ iStock

EDITOR'S NOTE: OrilliaMatters is partnering with Sustainable Orillia to publish a weekly tip. Check back here every Tuesday evening for a new tip. For more information, visit the Sustainable Orillia website.

To reduce our impact on the climate and avert disaster, it’s going to take more than ditching single-use plastic, eating less meat and planting more trees. The most effective ways that individuals, policymakers and businesses can reduce our carbon footprint might surprise you.

Let’s see how much you know about the climate consequences of materials and waste management in Orillia and across the world.

The group Project Drawdown < www.drawdown.org> has ranked the most effective climate change solutions.

Rank these four solutions below according to which ones you think would have the biggest effect on curbing climate change.

  1. Build with "greener" cement compounds
  2. Use water more efficiently
  3. Clean up chemicals in our refrigerators and air conditioners
  4. Increase household recycling

Try not to peek ahead ...

Here’s how Project Drawdown ranks the choices, from highest effect (1) to lowest (4):

  1. Clean up chemicals in our refrigerators and air conditioners 
  2. Build with "greener" cement compounds – This is only 7% as effective as #1 (cleaner frig and A/C chemicals) 
  3. Use water more efficiently (5% of #1)
  4. Increase household recycling (3% of #1)

Recycling, using less water and switching to cleaner cement would all help slow climate change. But the chemicals used in our refrigerators and A/C units trap thousands of times more heat than CO2, so containing them is essential to stopping global warming.

If we prevent refrigerants from leaking and switch to using cleaner chemicals, it would be akin to keeping nearly 90 gigatons of C02 out of the atmosphere, according to Project Drawdown’s analysis.

(With thanks to Project Drawdown and Drew Kann, Will Houp, Judson Jones, and Sean O'Key).