White House to announce limits on HFCs

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WASHINGTON – The Biden administration has finalized a rule to gradually reduce the use of a powerful global warming chemical used in air conditioners and refrigerators, its latest effort to put climate change at the center of its agenda before a crucial United Nations summit.

Under a regulation expected to be released Thursday morning, the Environmental Protection Agency will reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, by 85% over the next 15 years. The White House will also announce a task force and other enforcement efforts to prevent the illegal production or importation of the destructive man-made compound.

HFCs have been used to replace ozone depletion chlorofluorocarbons in the 1980s, but turned out to be a major contributor to global warming. Although they represent only a small percentage of greenhouse gases and remain in the atmosphere for a short time, they have a heat-trapping power a thousand times greater than carbon dioxide, the pollutant. most abundant climate.

A White House fact sheet called the policy package “one of the most important climate measures taken by the federal government” and said it would reduce the equivalent of three years of climate pollution of the electricity sector. Experts said the rule would go a long way in helping the United States meet President Biden’s pledge to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent from 2005 levels by end of the decade.

The move follows a pact between the United States and Europe to eliminate one-third of global emissions of methane, another potent greenhouse gas, by 2030. So far, 15 methane-emitting countries have signed, including Mexico, Indonesia and Iraq. The Biden administration is also set to propose new regulations on the oil and gas sector, which is the largest industrial source of methane.

As countries prepare for global climate talks slated to take place in less than six weeks in Glasgow, the Biden administration is under increasing pressure to show it can achieve this goal, especially as US law on climate is facing an uncertain future in Congress.

Gina McCarthy, White House climate change adviser, said in a statement that the HFC reduction was “necessary to cope with the moment” on global warming. She called these policies “a victory for the climate and for the US manufacturing industry.”

Environmental groups and business have championed the phase-out of HFCs and supported a 2016 accord signed in Kigali, Rwanda, in the dying days of the Obama administration, along with related bipartisan legislation passed by Congress in December. Several industry executives have said they have been informed by the White House that Mr Biden intends to submit the Kigali accord to the Senate for ratification soon.

Stephen R. Yurek, president and CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, a trade association, said the adoption of the Kigali accord was important even though the United States was already getting ready. to implement it.

“It is a question of reputation and credibility,” he said. Formally joining the larger global effort, he said, was “good for the environment, good for the economy and good for trade.”


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