US approves Kigali Amendment to reduce greenhouse chemicals

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) speaks to the media after the 51-50 vote on the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US August 7, 2022.

Ken Sedno | Reuters

The Senate voted to ratify a global climate treaty that would gradually reduce the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, the greenhouse chemicals widely used in air conditioning and refrigeration.

The Senate voted 69 to 27 on Wednesday to advance the 2016 Kigali Amendment, an amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol treaty that dramatically limits the use of hydrofluorocarbons, which are thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide in heating the Earth. 48 Democrats and 21 Republicans voted in favour; Four senators did not vote.

The Environmental Protection Agency said regulatory action on such chemicals could help avoid up to 0.5°C of global warming by the end of the century. Emissions from HFCs rose between 2018 and 2019, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, as demand for air conditioning and refrigeration soared amid record high temperatures in the United States.

“This is a win-win situation in our fight against climate change and will go a long way to combating rising global temperatures while also creating tens of thousands of well-paid American jobs,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York. Wednesday.

Soon after taking office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring Congress to ratify the Kigali Amendment, among a series of other federal measures to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States joins 136 other countries and the European Union in ratifying the amendment.

“Ratification of the Kigali Amendment will allow us to lead the clean technology markets of the future by innovating and manufacturing these technologies here in America,” Biden said in a statement. “Certification will stimulate the growth of manufacturing jobs, enhance US competitiveness and advance global efforts to combat the climate crisis.”

Environmental groups, politicians and industry groups have largely supported the global phase-down of HFCs as a critical way to combat climate change and advance more sustainable technologies.

“HVACR companies and other stakeholders, from business to environmental groups, have urged the Senate to forcefully ratify the bipartisan Kigali Amendment,” said Stephen York, CEO of the Institute of Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration.

“[Kigali] Calculates for the jobs it will create; They are important to the global competitive advantage they create; “It counts with the additional exports that will be produced, and it is important to the technological advantage of the United States,” Yurick said.

Congress in 2020 passed the US Innovation and Manufacturing Act as part of the appropriations bill, allowing the EPA to begin regulating chemicals and forcing industries to reduce production and imports of HFCs by 85% over 15 years.

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