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Joe Biden just signed the Kigali Amendment, a treaty that bans HFCs | Rare Techy


President Joe Biden signed a global climate treaty Wednesday, one that passed the Senate with bipartisan support in a 69-27 vote. Twenty-one Republicans supported ratification in September, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Wait, what?

It’s amazing how a measure, even an international environmental agreement, can garner so much support in such a divided legal body. But the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer proved otherwise.

On the surface, the Kigali Amendment may not appear to be climate-related. But in fact, it may be one of the most important ways to reduce global warming. If fully implemented, the measure would limit more than 0.5 degrees Celsius — about 1 degree Fahrenheit — of warming by the end of the century. Bearing in mind that the Paris climate agreement aims to keep the increase in global average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, the Kigali Amendment will play an important role in that goal. And build on one of the most successful efforts to prevent a natural disaster in history.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, as its name suggests, was originally intended to protect the ozone layer, the part of the atmosphere that serves as the planet’s sun protection. It filters out the most powerful ultraviolet light from the sun, burning out most life on Earth’s surface. Although the thinning of the ozone layer can cause problems, it can cause cancer and cataracts in people who live below it.

In the 1970s, scientists discovered that the ozone layer was depleting. In the early 1980s, they discovered a hole in the upper layer of Antarctica. Scientists warned at the time that the ozone layer was on the way to complete disappearance.

The pollutant is a class of synthetic chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). It is often used as a carrier in aerosol cans and refrigerants in air conditioners. However, when they are released into the atmosphere, CFCs quickly eat up the ozone layer.

Countries around the world came together to try to address the problem, and in 1987, the Montreal Protocol was developed. It was the first treaty ratified by every country in the world. Countries began to phase out all CFCs. And it worked. The ozone layer is on its way to full recovery. By 2065, the Montreal Protocol is estimated to have prevented 443 million skin cancers, 2.3 million skin cancers, and more than 63 million cancers in the United States alone, according to to the Office of the Secretary.

The Montreal Protocol had a major unintended side effect. CFCs are potent greenhouse gases, with some types more than 13,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming. The Montreal Protocol is the most effective action taken today to reduce climate change.

There was also an unexpected problem. CFCs were replaced by another type of chemical called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in many applications. Although HFCs are not harmful to the ozone layer, they are greenhouse gases. The Kigali Amendment, drafted in 2016, aims to phase out HFCs.

But why have so many Republicans returned to Kigali since they have opposed other important international environmental agreements? Remember that many Republican lawmakers were happy when President Trump began withdrawing the US from the Paris climate agreement.

One of the reasons for Kigali’s success was the philanthropists Margaret Thatcher, a former chemist, and Ronald Reagan, a skin cancer survivor and founder of the first Montreal Protocol.

The other is the correction that comes with solutions. There are good-looking coolers on the market, and appliance manufacturers are eager to provide them. Some lawmakers see this as an opportunity to play to America’s strengths.

“This amendment will give American manufacturers the ability to continue to supply sustainable heaters and the products they depend on,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) in a statement. “Not only will this create thousands of jobs here at home, it will also protect our markets from becoming dumping grounds for old Chinese products.”

President Biden also highlighted the economic benefits of the treaty, saying it would lead to 33,000 new jobs in the US, $4.8 billion in exports, and an increase in the overall economy of $12.5 billion per year.

The members of the executive committee are clapping and high-fiving each other to celebrate the adoption of the Kigali Amendment.

Negotiators celebrate the signing of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2016.
Cyril Ndegeya/AFP via Getty Images

The Kigali Amendment will “stimulate industrial growth, strengthen US competitiveness, and advance global efforts to combat the climate crisis,” Biden wrote in a statement. talk.

The Environmental Protection Agency has already begun developing new regulations for HFCs. One proposed law last year would have cut US use of HFCs by 85 percent over the next 15 years. That would prevent the equivalent of 4.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide being emitted between 2022 and 2050.

Temperatures are already rising, however, and the need for cooling is growing. In some parts of the world, refrigeration is necessary to survive. Air conditioning creates its own environmental footprint as it traps electrons. So it’s a quick request for proper, efficient heating. But staying cool while keeping the world from getting warmer requires strategies beyond air conditioning, such as urban planning and building design to keep things cool.


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