The United States is cracking down on a class of potent greenhouse gases

Washington | The US government announced Thursday that it has finalized regulations to achieve a 15-year goal of reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons by 85%, a class of greenhouse gases extremely harmful to the climate.

According to a statement from the Joe Biden administration, it is “one of the most significant federal actions to reduce environmental pollution in decades.”

This regulation has already been announced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but it has now been “finished”, said the agency’s president, Michael Reagan, at a press conference.

He said it should return to reducing US emissions equivalent to 4.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2050, or about three years of emissions from the country’s energy sector.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are refrigerant gases commonly used in air conditioners, refrigerators, or to manufacture insulating foams.

It could be “thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of warming our climate,” national climate advisor Gina McCarthy said at the press conference.

The Biden administration estimates that this measure, which will begin in 2022, will “preserve and create hundreds of thousands” of jobs.

In practice, this includes promoting the development and use of alternatives to HFCs, including on federal buildings and equipment. The government also intends to combat the illegal import of HFCs.

“The United States is already at the forefront of innovation and production of alternatives to HFCs, so making this transition is good for our economy,” added Gina McCarthy.

With these regulations, the United States honors a commitment made in 2016 as part of the Kigali Agreement. According to the timetable for this agreement, the group of so-called “developed” countries should reduce their consumption of HFCs by 85% by 2036, a target that has been postponed for a few years for other countries.

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Experts say that if the deal is fulfilled, global warming could reduce by 0.5°C by 2100.

This US action should also contribute to fulfilling Washington’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. The United States is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% by 2030 from the 2005 level.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been used since the 1990s to replace CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), the main causes of the destruction of the ozone layer, which were banned for this reason under the Montreal Protocol. The Kigali Agreement is an amendment to this Protocol.

HFCs such as CFCs belong to the family of so-called fluorinated gases.

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