The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday that it is proposing the first rule, through the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2020, to “phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs),” chemicals used in appliances.
According to the EPA press release, HFCs are powerful greenhouse gasses used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and other items with a cooling system. The EPA was directed by the AIM Act to reduce pollution from HFCs through “an allowance allocation and trading program,” it said.
The EPA reported that this step will decrease both production and importing of HFCs by 85% over 15 years, and it expects that this will “avoid up to 0.5 °C of global warming by 2100.” Additionally, the EPA claimed that replacing appliances with ones that use cooling technologies that are more energy efficient and environmentally safe will save billions of dollars spent by the government to address severe weather events and other environmental effects.
“By phasing down HFCs, which can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet, EPA is taking a major action to help keep global temperature rise in check. The phasedown of HFCs is also widely supported by the business community, as it will help promote American leadership in innovation and manufacturing of new climate-safe products. Put simply, this action is good for our planet and our economy,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in the press release.
The AIM act was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act which passed earlier this year, it reportedly gave the EPA authority to phase down HFC production, reclaim HFCs in various equipment, and restrict use of HFCs to help industries “transition to next-generation technologies.”
These steps reportedly are consistent with a global phasedown of HFCs, as is outlined in an amendment to an international agreement called the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the OZone Layer. Additionally, the EPA claimed that reducing “highly potent HFCs” is a big step toward meeting the U.S. goal under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before 2030.
The EPA said that it will finalize the rule later in 2021 after a public comment period and hearing.