EPA moves to phase down powerful greenhouse gas
The Environmental Protection Agency Monday morning floated draft regulations to sharply phase down planet-warming gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration over the next 15 years.
Why it matters: The plan is designed to cut production and importation of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are highly potent greenhouse gases, by 85% by 2036.
- EPA said that under the proposal, the phase-down would prevent the equivalent of 187 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2036 alone.
- That's "roughly equal" to the annual emissions from one out of seven vehicles registered in the U.S., according to EPA.
Background: The rule stems from wide-ranging bipartisan legislation enacted in late 2020.
- The HFC phase-down has support among both powerful industry groups and the environmental movement.
- The rule will effectively meet U.S. obligations under a 2016 addition to the Montreal Protocol agreed to in Kigali, Rwanda, even though the U.S. has not formally ratified the amendment.
- That 1987 treaty successfully curbed the use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, but one side effect was that it boosted deployment of HFCs.
By the numbers: EPA estimates that implementing the regulation will provide $283.9 billion in cumulative benefits from 2022 through 2050.
- The agency said that a global phase-down is "expected to avoid up to 0.5 °C of global warming by 2100."
- That's a lot if it indeed happens. Earth has already warmed more than 1°C above preindustrial levels, and the most ambitious goal of the Paris climate agreement is to hold warming to 1.5°C.
Go deeper: E.P.A. to Announce Sharp Limits on Powerful Greenhouse Gases (New York Times)