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Biden administration slashes use of climate-warming gas by 85%

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday, September 23, 2021 finalised a rule that will slash the use of a potent climate-warming gas commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners by 85 per cent over the next 15 years.

Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden

This move will help halve greenhouse gas emissions this decade.

The rule aims to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85 per cent in a range of common appliances and carries out legislation passed with bipartisan support in Congress last year.

It will make the U.S. compliant with the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty to reduce HFCs that the U.S. has not yet ratified.

“It really sends a signal to the rest of the world that we are all in on climate change,” National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy told reporters.

The rule comes with under six weeks to go before the pivotal UN climate summit in Glasgow.

President Joe Biden is rolling out several climate measures through executive actions, while other key climate proposals are dependent on Congress passing budget and infrastructure bills

McCarthy said she did not know when Biden would send the amendment to the Senate for ratification.

The EPA said the rule was one of the most “consequential” in terms of its climate impact.

Along with additional interagency measures, it can reduce 4.5 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent by 2050 –  equal to nearly three years of U.S. power sector emissions at 2019 levels, according to a White House fact sheet.

The EPA rule creates an allowance allocation and trading system to reduce HFCs and is reviewing over a dozen petitions to restrict HFC use in other applications.

The EPA and White House also announced on Thursday that the administration would take an interagency approach to prevent the illegal trade, production, use, and sale of HFCs and prepare for enforcement actions to punish violations of the law. 

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