The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Elliott Negin,Media Director,

California Could Be First to Limit Potent Warming Gas


Earlier this week, California's Senate Environmental Quality Committee approved a bill that would expand the definition of gases the state can limit under its landmark global warming law to include nitrogen trifluoride, or NF3, a particularly potent heat-trapping gas used to manufacture flat panel televisions, computer displays and other products.

Senate Bill 104, introduced by State Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) will now undergo review by the Senate Appropriations Committee. If passed, the law could be the first to limit NF3.

NF3 traps nearly 17,000 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a century, the main heat-trapping gas driving climate change, but it is emitted in much smaller amounts. According to a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal published by the American Geophysical Union, the amount of NF3 released to the atmosphere today is equal to almost half a percent of the carbon dioxide released by industrialized nations in 2005. .

However, the amount of NF3 might rise dramatically as demand for electronic products using the compound increases. According to the paper, the amount of NF3 in the atmosphere is increasing at a rate of about 11 percent per year.

Additionally, scientists agree that NF3, like carbon dioxide, is persistent in the atmosphere. The most recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report estimated the NF3's atmospheric lifetime at 740 years and one recent paper revised the estimated lifetime to 550 years.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.