From the catastrophic wildfires out West, to the more frequent and powerful hurricanes forming in the Atlantic—it’s clear that the climate crisis is here, in every direction we look. In Delaware, the lowest-lying state in the nation, we see the effects of climate change every day. Families and businesses in our state are already grappling with the environmental and economic consequences of this crisis.
The scientific community has warned us that we need to avoid 1.5 degrees Celsius in global warming to avoid the irreversible brink of climate change. Well, we now have an opportunity in the Senate to pass legislation that would get us a third of the way there.
After years of work and months of negotiations, last week, I joined with Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, a Republican senator for the state of Wyoming, and John Kennedy, a Republican senator for Louisiana, to announce a bipartisan plan to implement a nationwide phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons, potent greenhouse gases known as HFCs. Our plan would require the EPA to implement an 85 percent phase down of the production and consumption of HFCs by 2036.
What are HFCs, exactly? They are the coolants and refrigerants that keep ice cream from melting in our freezers and allow air conditioning to cool us down on a hot summer day. In fact, HFCs can probably be found in just about every household in America. The thing is, they have a global warming effect that’s thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The good news is that, thanks to the ingenuity and innovation of American industry and workers, the next generation of climate-friendly HFC replacements are already being made here in the United States. By building on the investments already being made by American companies, our bipartisan plan to phase down on HFCs would increase U.S. manufacturing output by almost $39 billion by 2027 and save consumers $3.7 billion over the next 15 years. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it would create 150,000 direct and indirect American jobs.
At the same time, this is a major breakthrough for climate action in the U.S. Senate. As the Washington Post recently reported, “[c]utting these emissions, one of the fastest-growing greenhouse gases in the United States, could avert a 0.5-degree Celsius (0.9-degree Fahrenheit) global temperature rise by the end of the century.”
At a time when we could all use some good news, this is great news for our economy and our planet.