© Reuters. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
By Valerie Volcovici and Moira Warburton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate voted 69 to 27 on Wednesday to ratify an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that would cut use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a major greenhouse gas, in a major step toward combating climate change.
The so-called Kigali Amendment calls for the phase-out of HFCs, gases used in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) that are far more effective than carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming.
“This is a win-win situation in our fight against climate change and will go a long way to combating rising global temperatures while creating tens of thousands of well-paid American jobs,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday.
He said the ratification of Kigali and the passage of the climate-focused inflation-reduction law last month constituted the “strongest two-way blow” Congress has taken to combat climate change.
Senior administration officials told Reuters that global implementation of the amendment could prevent up to half a degree Celsius (0.9 Fahrenheit) warming by the end of the century.
John Kerry, the special envoy on climate change and a former secretary of state who helped negotiate a treaty amendment in Kigali, Rwanda in 2016, called the ratification “a profound victory for the American climate and economy.”
The amendment includes specific targets and timetables for replacing HFCs with climate-friendly alternatives and restricts countries that have ratified the Montreal Protocol and its amendments from trading in controlled substances with countries that have not.
Manufacturers of HVACR, which have supported ratification of the amendment since Congress voted in 2020 to phase out HFCs domestically, said ratification would create jobs and keep the sector globally competitive.
“It matters for the global competitive advantage it creates; it matters with the additional exports that will produce and account for the United States’ superiority in technology,” said Stephen York, president of the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) trade association. .
Dorwood Zelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development that has worked to phase out HFCs, said the amendment could set an example for other, more contentious global climate negotiations.
“When the goals of action align with environmental goals, you can have bipartisan support at home and support the North and the South globally to advance multilateralism,” he said.
The world’s major producers of HFCs alternatives are in Louisiana, New Jersey, Texas and elsewhere in the United States. The world’s fastest growing markets for refrigerators and air conditioners are abroad.