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U.S. Lags Behind on Climate Change Action Again!

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Japan has announced new legislation to phase-down the “super” greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), joining the European Union and Australia in regulating and phasing down HFCs domestically. The revision of the European F-Gas Regulation to implement a systemic phase-down of HFCs is in full-swing in the EU and Australia implemented a carbon tax on HFCs last year. The United States is the only major industrialized country left behind not taking definitive actions to phase down the use of HFCs.

On April 19, 2013, the Japanese Cabinet approved the “Act for Partial Revision of the Act on Ensuring the Implementation of Recovery and Destruction of Fluorocarbons concerning Designated Products,” a law that implements measures at each step of the fluorocarbons life-cycle - from manufacturing to disposal of the gases as well as the products that use these gases. Among other requirements, the law requires that entities manufacturing and importing air conditioning and refrigeration units transition to either fluorocarbon-free or low global warming fluorocarbons by certain target years.

HFCs have been commercialized to replace the chemicals that were destroying the ozone layer, but are contributing to global climate change. They are primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning, foam blowing, as fire suppressants, solvents and aerosols. However, viable commercial alternatives that do not destroy the climate, exist for most of their uses.

Although the U.S. has been leading on amendment proposals at the Montreal Protocol for a global phase-down of HFCs as they are hundreds and thousands of times more damaging to the global climate than carbon dioxide, HFC use in the United States is increasing. The Government has yet to act to effectively control HFC emissions or to implement any domestic policy or legislation to reduce their use. The United States is the largest user of HFCs in the world, and it is essential to achieving an international HFC phase-down that the U.S. implement strong HFC measures domestically.

“The United States has led the way in eliminating ozone depleting substances and calling for a global phase-down of HFCs which would prevent the emission of 87-146 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalents by 2050”, said Mark W. Roberts, International Policy Advisor for the Environmental Investigation Agency. “However, the United States needs to join the rest of the industrialized countries and take serious actions domestically if it is going to convince the developing countries that they should agree to the proposal for a phase-down of HFCs.”

In addition to proposing to amend the Montreal Protocol to enable it to phase-down HFCs so that the restoration of the ozone layer does not come at the expense of the global climate, the U.S. has also co-founded the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to advocate action around the world to reduce the use of HFCs. It is time for the U.S. to lead by example and show the World that it is serious about eliminating the “super greenhouse gases”. With Australia, EU and Japan already in, the world is looking once again to the United States and it must realize that actions speak louder than words.

EIA calls on the U.S. Government to take immediate steps to phase-out the unnecessary uses and emissions of HFCs domestically. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must issue regulations reducing the allowable emissions from products containing or using HFCs; mandating tighter reduction, recovery and reuse requirements; and barring the use of HFCs where low global warming alternatives are commercially available.

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For more information contact:
Mark W. Roberts
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