WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency will take its first major step in curbing climate change on Monday, a spokesperson for the agency confirmed, and will gradually phase out the chemicals used in cooling and air conditioning, which are a thousand times more effective than carbon dioxide at warming the planet.
The proposed regulation aims to reduce the production and import of fluorocarbons or HFCs in the United States by 85 percent over the next 15 years. It’s a goal shared by environmental groups and the business community, who are working together to promote bipartisan legislation that Congress passed in December to tackle the pollutant.
The speed with which the EPA is proposing the regulation underscores the attention the Biden government is paying to climate change, said Francis Dietz, vice president of public affairs at the Institute of Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration, a trade group.
“You move really fast,” he said. “They say you mean this very seriously.”
The EPA estimates that the HFC rule in communicating the gains it believes will be made from fighting climate change will bring $ 283.9 billion in health and environmental benefits by mid-century.
The effort is part of President Biden’s ambitious strategy to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions roughly in half by 2030. They also align the United States with an international HFC reduction goal that the von Biden administration has recognized as part of its intent in its efforts to revitalize American leadership in the fight against climate change.
Like methane, HFCs have short-term warming effects that are far more powerful than carbon dioxide, but they don’t stay in the atmosphere that long. Scientists have estimated that reducing these types of greenhouse gases can have a noticeable impact, slowing the pace of global warming by 0.6 degrees Celsius by mid-century.
“This is incredibly important,” said Kristen N. Taddonio, a senior climate and energy advisor for the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, a nonprofit environmental group. “By acting quickly against these short-lived climate pollutants, of which HFCs are the most powerful, we can buy ourselves some time and actually help prevent climate tipping points.”
As part of a comprehensive coronavirus relief law, Congress last year approved a language instructing EPA to contain HFCs. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who was the leader of the Democratic minority at the time, called it “the single greatest win in the fight against climate change to get this body down in a decade.”
The EPA estimates that by 2022 to 2050, the rule will eliminate the equivalent of 4.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide – or about three years’ worth of emissions from America’s energy sector.
The agency said it conducted an “environmental justice analysis” which found that reducing emissions to warm the planet would “benefit populations particularly vulnerable to damage related to climate change, such as the world’s largest population. B. very young, elderly, poor, disabled and indigenous population groups. ”
Echoing an economic issue that Mr Biden has repeatedly raised when discussing his climate change plans, the EPA stated that American manufacturers are at the forefront of developing HFC alternatives and that the new regulations would enable these companies to: to be successful at home and abroad.
Mr Dietz said he hoped federal regulation means businesses don’t face a patchwork of HFC bans that are currently being drafted in various states.
“This is a big signal to states that the administration is taking this seriously and the federal government is taking it seriously,” he said.
In the final days of the Obama administration, 197 nations, including the United States, signed an agreement in Kigali, Rwanda, declaring their willingness to phase out HFCs. President Donald J. Trump never submitted the agreement to the Senate for ratification. Mr Biden, who has joined the United States to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, has pledged to send the Kigali amendment to the Senate for approval.