The United States Environmental Protection Agency has announced a drastic reduction in a group of potent greenhouse gases used in air conditioners and refrigerators as the regulator advances emissions targets restored under the Biden administration.
The EPA has decided to gradually reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, by 85% over the next 15 years. He expects his new rule to reduce the equivalent of 4.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – or about three years of emissions from the U.S. electricity sector – between 2022 and 2050.
“By phasing out HFCs, which can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the planet, the EPA is taking a major step to help control the rise in global temperature,” said EPA administrator Michael Regan said Monday.
Congress ordered the regulator to reduce the production and use of HFCs in a any amendment who passed last year. As the Trump administration retreated dozens of environmental regulations As part of a deregulation drive – including postponing ratification of the global HFC deal – President Joe Biden has made climate change a priority.
Last month, Biden urged the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by the end of the decade, compared to 2005 levels, and it has joined the Paris climate agreement.
While a handful of states have already introduced measures to reduce the use of HFCs, the EPA rule would propose the first national limit on chemicals.
“This swift move by EPA Biden to start phasing out these extremely potent climate pollutants will provide enormous public health and climate benefits for all Americans,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. , an environmental group. “Replacing HFCs is an essential and fully feasible first step to avert the worst of the climate crisis.”
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HFCs are used in refrigeration, air conditioning, building insulation, fire extinguishing systems and aerosols. They have become increasingly popular in recent decades as a substitute for a different group of chemicals, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which damage the ozone layer.
CFCs were phased out under the Montreal Protocol of 1987. But HFCs have proven to be a potent greenhouse gas and there has been growing clamor to move away from their use.
Under the Obama administration, the United States subscribed to an agreement in Kigali, Rwanda, to phase out HFCs, but the Trump administration did not send it to the Senate for ratification. The EPA said a global phase-out could prevent up to 0.5 ° C of global warming by 2100.
Biden’s two main climate lieutenants – climate envoy John Kerry and White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy – helped negotiate the Kigali deal. Biden seeks ratification by Congress.