Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Activity: International Regulations for Refrigeration and the Environment

Grade Level:

Activity Overview: Most of the activities and explorations within the Watt Watchers of Texas portfolio look at individual actions focused on conservation and sustainable decision-making. This activity looks at some examples of international law, treaties, and regulation that affect refrigeration and air conditioning all around the world.

Air conditioning depends on a pressurized system of fluid repeatedly evaporating and condensing within a closed system in order to absorb heat from the air inside your space. In the past, air conditioners used water, ammonia, or carbon dioxide. However, in order to adapt to higher demand for indoor cooling, companies turned to different chemical compounds and synthetic fluids in order to achieve better cooling efficiency.

Synthetic refrigerants improve the cooling capacity of air conditioning systems and require less energy to cool the air. However, when released from the system, these fluids have serious environmental effects.

Since the 1980s, the international scientific and political community has mobilized around protecting the ozone and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The oldest of the international protocols, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, is now more than 30 years old.

Ask students to identify a piece of international legislation or regulation pertaining to the environment, whether or not it was ratified or accepted by the United States. Some examples are included in a list below but consider encouraging students to explore other articles or agreements off this list, at the national, regional, or international level. Students should consult different legitimate sources to produce a short analysis, answering the following questions, as appropriate.

  • Which countries or bodies have supported, signed, and/or ratified the agreement or regulation?
  • Which countries or bodies have opposed the agreement or regulation?
  • What is the date of agreement or effective date of the provisions of the agreement or regulation?
  • What are the relevant provisions of the agreement or regulation?
  • Has the agreement undergone any revisions or amendments since original ratifications?
  • What are the criticisms levied against the agreement or regulation?
  • Based on observations and monitoring of the subject of the agreement or regulation, does the press or community review the agreement or regulation as a success or failure? Are the results mixed?

Examples of International Agreements and Regulations

  • Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
  • Kyoto Protocol
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Paris Agreement (2016)
  • Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC
  • Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution
  • Convention on the Protection of the Alps
  • Clean Air Act
  • Clean Water Act


There are no right or wrong answers to this activity. However, excellent work will achieve the following:

Select an Agreement or Regulation: Students should select an agreement or regulation, which intersects with the environment.

Identify Characteristics: Students should identify descriptive information about the agreement or regulation including but not limited to the questions listed above. These questions should be answered coherently and accurately based on the agreement or regulation selected.

Judge the Outcome: Students should collect and evaluate different observations of the effects of the agreement or regulation. Whether they synthesize these views into a positive or negative assessment, students should be able to justify their opinion with references to scientific or economic analysis.

Share the Results: Students’ analysis should be composed with an appropriate persuasive style and voice with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Cite Sources: Students should identify a range of appropriate primary and secondary sources to answer their research question. Sources should be referenced appropriately in their analysis and cited according to a prescribed citation style.


SS.6.10C, SS.7.13B, ELA.6.25D, ELA.7.25D, ELA.6.23D, ELA.7.23C, ELA.6.25A, ELA.7.25A, ELA.6.23A, ELA.7.23A, ELA.6.23B, ELA.7.23B

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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