The U.S. Senate has ratified an amendment to an international treaty that seeks to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, chemicals commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners that contribute to the climate emergency. HFCs emerged as a popular substitute to fluorocarbons, which are largely banned under the Montreal Protocol, a 1987 treaty to end the use of chemicals that deplete the Earth’s protective ozone layer. But HFCs are extremely potent greenhouse gases, trapping heat in the atmosphere about a thousand times more effectively than carbon dioxide. On Thursday, 69 senators voted to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out the use of HFCs. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer celebrated the move.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “Experts say that phasing out our use of HFCs will help prevent up to half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of the century. … Ratifying the Kigali Amendment, along with passing the Inflation Reduction Act, is the strongest one-two punch against climate change any Congress has ever undertaken.”