US fast food companies in India not doing enough to cut down on emissions of HFCs, a super greenhouse gas, says CSE

  • HFCs are refrigerants used by these companies in their refrigeration and other space conditioning systems 

  • Multinational fast food chains in India are some of the country’s biggest contributors to HFC emissions. Many of these companies are taking actions in Europe and the US to move to alternate refrigerants  

  • US government is pushing countries like India for an agreement to cut down HFC emissions under the Montreal Protocol, but is not taking any actions to rein in these companies in other parts of the world   

  • CSE’s statement comes in response to release of new report on the fast food industry in India

New Delhi, September 16, 2016: HFCs are a class of human-made greenhouse gases, often hundreds to thousands of times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. They are typically used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems. For the past few years, United States has been pushing for an agreement under the Montreal Protocol to reduce the emissions of HFCs. Montreal protocol was signed in early 1990s to elimate the use of refrigerants that caused ozone hole. 

A report released today by Environment Investigation Agency (EIA), a US-based independent campaigning organisation, finds that the US multinational fast food companies are doing very little to reduce the use of HFCs in their India operations, though they have started taking actions to move to alternate refrigerants in Europe and the US.    

Responding to this report, Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said: “Big American companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonald’s are not doing anything to cut down on emissions on HFCs, at a time when the White House and the US government themselves are desperate to get a deal at the Montreal protocol to phase-down of HFCs.”

CSE has been consistently campaigning in support of a global phase-down of HFCs, and has advocated an ambitious phase-down under the auspices of the Montreal Protocol. However, there is a issue of the replacement refrigerants. CSE is advocating for India to move to non-patented and energy efficient natural refrigerants like hydrocarbons and CO2. While, there is a concerted effort by the two American multinational companies to sell another synthetic chemical which is protected by Intellectual Property Rights and therefore very expensive.

“On this Ozone Day it is important that countries give priority to people and planet and not their companies. In the Montreal Protocol interests of companies are taking priority and that is not going give us an environmentally sound agreement,” adds Chandra Bhushan. CSE is recommending India’s environment ministry to put regulations to restrict the use of HFCs in these large companies.

The EIA report, titled Transitioning HFCs in India: The Opportunity for Climate Friendly Cooling in the Fast Food Industry, looks at companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway and Dunkin Donuts (all US-based), Café Coffee Day (Indian), and Hindustan Unilever Limited is based in India and is a subsidiary of Unilever. 

The multinational fast food sector in India is one of the country’s largest contributors to HFC emissions. Just the eight fast food chains covered in this report could add about a million tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of HFCs by 2020.

The Parties to the Montreal Protocol will meet in October to reach an agreement on the global phase- down of HFCs. A successful agreement has the potential to mitigate 100 billion metric tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050.

  • For more on the subject, please contact Souparno Banerjee ( / 9910864339) of The CSE Media Resource Centre.