Los Angeles Times

Senate ratifies deal to curb use of gases

Limits on refrigeran­ts are seen as a boost for the climate fight and U.S. competitiv­eness.

- Associated press

WASHINGTON — In a major action to address climate change, the Senate on Wednesday ratified an internatio­nal agreement that compels the United States and other countries to limit use of hydrofluor­ocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerat­ion and air conditioni­ng that are far more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The so-called Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone pollution requires participat­ing nations to phase down production and use of hydrofluor­ocarbons, also known as HFCs, by 85% over the next 14 years, as part of a global phaseout intended to slow climate change.

The Senate approved the treaty 69-27, above the twothirds margin required for ratificati­on.

HFCs are considered a major driver of global warming and are being targeted worldwide. Nearly 200 nations reached a deal in 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, to limit HFCs and find substitute­s more friendly to the atmosphere. More than 130 nations, including China, India and Russia, have ratified the agreement, which scientists say could help the world avert a temperatur­e increase of half a degree Celsius.

President Biden pledged to embrace the Kigali deal during the 2020 presidenti­al campaign and submitted the agreement to the Senate last year, after the Environmen­tal Protection Agency proposed a rule that would limit U.S. production and use of HFCs in line with Kigali. The EPA rule, in turn, followed a 2020 law passed by Congress authorizin­g a 15-year phaseout of HFCs.

Biden called the Senate vote “a historic, bipartisan win for American workers and industry” and said it would allow the U.S. “to lead the clean technology markets of the future” while advancing global efforts to combat climate change.

The president’s climate envoy, former Secretary of State John F. Kerry, said the agreement will drive American exports, avert up to half a degree’s rise in global temperatur­es and ensure strong internatio­nal cooperatio­n.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer called the vote “one of the most significan­t bipartisan measures the Senate takes on all year.”

By ratifying the treaty, “not only will we protect our planet,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said before the vote, but senators also will provide “a golden opportunit­y to help American businesses dominate in an emerging [global] business” of refrigeran­ts that do not rely on HFCs.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and other Republican­s opposed the treaty, saying it would give China preferenti­al treatment by designatin­g it as a developing country.

“Under this treaty, China would get an extra decade to produce HFCs,” placing the United States at a competitiv­e disadvanta­ge to China, Barrasso said. “There is no excuse for any senator to give China a handout at the expense of the American taxpayer.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called the amendment “a win for the economy and the environmen­t.”

Ratificati­on “would enhance the competitiv­eness of U.S. manufactur­ers working to develop alternativ­e technologi­es, and level the global economic playing field,” the group said.

The American Chemistry Council, an industry group, called the amendment a “tremendous market opportunit­y ... to take advantage of game-changing technologi­es.”

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