On A High Note: The US Ratifies its First International Climate Treaty in 30 Years with Bipartisan Support

On A High Note: The US Ratifies its First International Climate Treaty in 30 Years with Bipartisan Support

The Senate ratified a climate treaty six years in the making that will phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs), the harmful greenhouse gas used as a refrigerant. The treaty was signed in Kigali, Rwanda in 2016 but only just now ratified, making it the first international climate treaty the US has joined in three decades. Along with the EU and 136 other nations, the US has committed to reducing its use of HFCs by 85% over the next 15 years.

Domestically, the US committed to cutting down on HFCs in 2021 with the first finalized climate rule of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Biden Administration, which phased out the production and use of these gases in refrigerators and air conditioners.

UN: The Kigali Amendment, December 6, 2016.

Al Jazeera: Landmark deal reached on greenhouse HFC gases, October 15, 2016.

HFCs are particularly potent greenhouse gases. As POLITICO put it, “A pound of HFCs can have as much warming potential as hundreds or even tens of thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide.” As air conditioning becomes increasingly ubiquitous in a warming world, it’s imperative to find sustainable ways to keep cool. Using fewer HFCs could lessen some effects of climate change without further contributing to it.

CNBC: How Air Conditioning Is Warming The World, July 24, 2021.

The Economist: How to cool a warming world, November 12, 2021.

This treaty demonstrated another rarity -- bipartisan cooperation on climate. Environmentalists, manufacturers, and politicians agree that reducing HFCs will help lower emissions and improve the economy. Getting rid of HFCs worldwide could reduce warming by up to 0.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Meanwhile, the agreement will help businesses by guaranteeing that US companies will meet international standards that will increase sales and exports, along with manufacturing jobs.

Forbes: Schumer Touts 'One Of The Most Significant Bipartisan Measures The Senate Takes On All Year,' September 20, 2022.

WW0: Unlikely Allies, October 15, 2020.

WW0: Republicans For Change, February 4, 2021.