The Senate ratifies the climate agreement on refrigerants for global warming

(WASHINGTON, DC) – In a major action to tackle climate change, the Senate on Wednesday ratified an international agreement that obliges the United States and other countries to restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigeration and in air conditioning which are much more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The so-called Kigali amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Ozone Pollution requires participating nations to gradually reduce the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, also known as HFCs, by 85% over the next 14 years, as part of a gradual global abandonment aimed at slowing climate change.

The Senate passed the treaty, 69-27, above the two-thirds margin required for ratification.

HFCs are considered one of the main drivers of global warming and are targeted around the world. Nearly 200 nations reached an agreement in 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda to limit HFCs and find more friendly substitutes for the atmosphere. More than 130 nations, including China, India and Russia, have formally ratified the agreement, which scientists say could help the world avoid global warming of half a degree Celsius.

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President Joe Biden pledged to embrace the Kigali deal during the 2020 presidential campaign and presented the deal in the Senate last year, months after the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule that would limit the production and use of HFCs in the United States in line with Kigali. The EPA standard, in turn, followed a 2020 law passed by Congress that authorized the 15-year phasing out of HFCs in the United States.

“The Kigali Amendment will be one of the most significant bipartisan measures the Senate adopts throughout the year,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y.

By ratifying the treaty, “not only will we protect our planet,” Schumer said Tuesday, but the senators will also provide “a golden opportunity to help American companies dominate in an emerging (global) business” of refrigerants that do not. based on HFCs.

“If we don’t ratify the amendment, the rest of the world will move on without us,” Schumer said. “Without Kigali, we will play the second fiddle of nations like China, whose activities will surpass ours in developing viable alternatives to HFCs, taking on jobs that for all intents and purposes belong here in America.”

The US Chamber of Commerce has also urged approval, calling the amendment “a win for the economy and the environment.”

Senate ratification “would strengthen the competitiveness of US manufacturers working to develop alternative technologies and level the global economic playing field,” the group said in a letter to the Senate.

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Ratification of the amendment “would continue the important bipartisan action taken by Congress in 2020 with the passage of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, which phased out domestic production of HFCs,” said Jack Howard, senior vice president of the chamber for government affairs.

Chris Jahn, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, an industry group, called the amendment “an incredible market opportunity for our members to take advantage of breakthrough technologies” that enable more environmentally friendly refrigeration. compared to HFCs.

“” This is one of those really rare things that you get in the political world where it is beneficial for everyone “for the environment and business, he said in an interview.

Every year, millions of refrigerators and air conditioners are sold around the world and US companies are ready to meet that demand, Jahn said, citing growing markets in Asia, South America and Europe.

David Doniger, a senior climate and clean energy officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the Kigali amendment is based on the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which he called “the most successful environmental treaty in the world. “. He stated that “ozone is on the mend”. because the world has stepped in to eliminate ″ chlorofluorocarbons, also known as CFCs, and other ozone-depleting chemicals, Doniger said.

The next logical step is to replace HFCs with safer, commercially available alternatives, Doniger said.

Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said ratification of the Kigali Amendment “would release billions of dollars in US economic benefits and create approximately 150,000 US jobs. by 2027 “.

Carper and Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., Pushed for the 2020 law phasing out HFCs, saying it would give U.S. companies the regulatory certainty needed to produce alternative refrigerants. Both men represent states that host chemical companies that produce alternative refrigerants.

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