Montreal Protocol: US Senate pledges to reduce pollutants


With bipartisan Senate ratification, the United States just became the 137th country to agree to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, which are considered climate superpollutants. On Wednesday, the Senate approved the Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

The Senate ratified the global treaty by a vote of 69 to 27. The main sponsor was Senator John Neely Kennedy, R-La.

Hydrofluorocarbons are used in air conditioners and refrigerators and have been found to be “thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide”, according to a statement from the White House. The United States has led the way in developing and manufacturing more environmentally friendly substitutes and ratification could create up to 33,000 new jobs, $4.8 billion in increased exports and $12.5 billion in dollars of economic output, according to federal estimates.

President Joe Biden in a press conference hailed the Senate ratification as a “historic bipartisan victory for American workers and industry. Ratification of the Kigali Amendment will allow us to lead the clean technology markets of the future, innovating and manufacturing these technologies here in America. Ratification will spur manufacturing job growth, strengthen U.S. competitiveness, and advance the global effort to address the climate crisis.

According The Washington Post“US climate envoy John F. Kerry, who was in Rwanda’s capital Kigali when the amendment was negotiated, said the Senate vote “has been in the works for a decade and a profound victory. for the climate and the American economy”.

The article noted that the treaty, which required the support of two-thirds of the senators, benefited from an unusual alliance of backers, including the American Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Kerry released a statement that helped explain the diverse alliance, noting, “Corporations backed it because it boosts U.S. exports, climate advocates defended it because it will stave off up to a half a degree of global warming by the end of the century, and world leaders have supported it because it ensures strong international cooperation.

Others also hailed the treaty’s potential to help the environment.

“These heat-trapping pollutants used in refrigerators and air conditioners are 1,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. With Senate approval, the United States joins 137 nationsincluding China and India, to ratify or accept the treaty amendment,” according to a press release from the Environmental Defense Fund.

David Doninger, Senior Strategic Director at Natural Resources Defense Council, an international non-profit organization, said in a written statement that hydrofluorocarbons are climate pollutants “that contribute to severe storms, floods, heat and wildfires in the United States and around the world. . Pound for pound, HFCs contain hundreds to thousands of times more carbon dioxide for global warming and their use has steadily increased dangerously.

Both China and India have already ratified the amendment.

According to a State Department briefing, “The Montreal Protocol, which also regulates the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, is one of the most successful international environmental agreements. It is expected to restore the stratospheric ozone layer by 2065, averting 443 million cases of skin cancer, an estimated 2.3 million skin cancer deaths, and more than 63 million cataract cases in the United States only, with even greater benefits worldwide.

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