September 24, 2021: -The Environmental Protection Agency is sharply curbing the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons, the climate-warming chemicals widely used in air-conditioning and refrigeration.
The move is the Biden administration’s first significant regulatory action to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also the time the federal government has set national standards on hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at heating the planet. The EPA said the rule could extend to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century.
On Wednesday, the agency will begin regulating the chemicals next year and force the industry to curb production and imports by 85% over the next 15 years, officials said in a virtual press briefing. On Thursday, the EPA proposed the rule in March and will finalize it.
According to estimates from the EPA, the agency’s rule is expected to reduce the equivalent of 4.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by mid-century, or three years’ worth of emissions from the country’s power sector at 2019 levels.
This reduction would help the Biden administration’s pledge to curb U.S. emissions by half by 2030 and reach a net-zero economy by 2050. In January, the president issued an executive order that requested Congress to ratify the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which aims to phase down HFCs.
On Wednesday, White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy called the agency’s rule a victory for combatting climate change and securing U.S. jobs.
“As we move in this direction, we opening up a huge opportunity for American industries,” McCarthy said in the briefing. “Reducing HFCs is a huge climate success story.”
According to the EPA, emissions from HFCs rose between 2018 and 2019 as demand for air-conditioning and refrigeration soared in the historic high temperatures in the U.S.
Some U.S. manufacturers have already moved to more climate-friendly refrigerants. Some chemical companies have supported the EPA’s proposal to phase down HFCs, which included The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute. This trade group represents manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the new limits would help the country transition to more energy-efficient cooling technologies while creating jobs.
“This action reaffirms what President Biden says; when he thinks about climate, he is thinking about jobs,” Regan said in the briefing. “His administration knows that what’s good for the environment is good for the economy.”