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U.S. Congress Passes Bipartisan HFC Legislation

Authorizes U.S. EPA to Implement the Kigali Amendment

Washington DC—Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress this week to provide COVID relief and fund the U.S. government includes a bipartisan climate agreement to phase-down production and consumption of super-pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFC). The bill authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the 2016 agreement to phase down HFCs under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and provides broader authority to manage existing sources of HFC emissions.

EIA issued the following in response:

“The inclusion of an HFC phase-down in this bill represents the most significant climate legislation to pass in the U.S. congress in over a decade. It sends a signal that one of the largest contributors to climate change, the United States, is back at the global climate action table, after four years of appalling inaction,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, Climate Campaign Lead, EIA. “The Biden Administration now has its work cut out. Taking immediate steps to ratify the long overdue Kigali Amendment combined with rejoining the Paris Agreement can help rebuild the climate credibility of the U.S. in the world.”

Key provisions include an allowance system reducing imports and production by 85% by 2035, restrictions on HFC use in specific sectors, and additional regulations to improve refrigerant management including through increasing recovery, reclamation and improved servicing, repair, and disposal practices. It also creates a three-year grant program for small businesses, allocating $5 million annually toward increasing recovery and reclamation of refrigerants at end-of-life.

“This paves the way for the Biden Administration to increase the ambition and effectiveness of our domestic federal policy framework to reduce HFCs,” said Christina Starr, EIA Senior Policy Analyst. “It doesn’t go as far as we’d ultimately like in requiring complete elimination of these gases, but the broader authority it gives EPA to better manage and restrict HFCs throughout their lifecycle provides more tools to increase emission reductions to meet net-zero emission targets.”

The Kigali Amendment has yet to be formally ratified by the U.S. which requires the White House to send a resolution of ratification to the Senate for advice and consent by a two-thirds majority. HFCs are potent climate pollutants used in cooling equipment, foam blowing, aerosols, and fire suppression, despite wide availability of climate-friendly alternatives.

Avipsa Mahapatra, Campaign Climate Lead, EIA, amahapatra@eia-global.org

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