Biden’s EPA orders reductions in greenhouse hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

Biden's EPA orders reductions in greenhouse hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which heard the EPA’s budget request on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 9, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The Environmental Protection Agency increasingly restricts the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons, a climate-warming chemical and widely used in air conditioning and refrigeration.

The move is the Biden administration’s first major regulatory action to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first time the federal government has set national standards for hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet. The EPA said the rule could prevent 0.5 ° C of global warming by the turn of the century.

Officials said in a virtual press briefing on Wednesday that the agency would start regulating chemicals next year and force the industry to cut production and imports by 85% over the next 15 years. The EPA proposed the rule in March and will finalize it on Thursday.

According to EPA estimates, the agency’s rule is expected to cut emissions from the country’s electricity sector by the equivalent of 4.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by mid-century, or about three years from 2019 levels.

Such a reduction would contribute to the Biden administration’s commitment to halve US emissions by 2030 and achieve a net zero economy by 2050. The President issued an executive order in January urging Congress to ratify the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which aims to phase out HFCs.

White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy on Wednesday called the agency’s rule a victory in tackling climate change and securing American jobs.

“As we move in this direction, we also open up a huge opportunity for US industries,” McCarthy said at the briefing. “The reduction of HFCs is a huge climate success story. “

According to the EPA, HFC emissions increased between 2018 and 2019, as demand for air conditioning and refrigeration increased during historic high temperatures in the United States.

Some US manufacturers have already switched to more climate-friendly refrigerants, and some large chemical companies have backed the EPA’s proposal to phase out HFCs, including the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, a trade group that represents manufacturers. heating and cooling. Device.

EPA administrator Michael Regan said the new limits will help the country switch to more energy-efficient cooling technologies while creating new jobs.

“This action confirms what President Biden has always said: when he thinks of the climate, he thinks of jobs,” Regan said at the briefing. “His administration knows that what is good for the environment is good for the economy.

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