Sen. Carper Expresses Support for U.S.-China Agreement to Cut Harmful Carbon Pollution

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, expressed support for the Obama Administration’s agreement with China to begin phasing down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a harmful pollutant that contributes to climate change. This weekend, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced an agreement to work together with other countries to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and industrial applications. Sen. Carper has been a long-time advocate of reducing the use of these gases and curbing their negative impact on our climate and public health.

“I applaud both President Obama and President Xi for taking a critical step towards reducing greenhouse gas pollution in the atmosphere and combating the harmful contributors to climate change,” Senator Carper said. “The Montreal Protocol is a great example of how governments can work together to address a global environmental problem – moving this world away from ozone destroying substances while also protecting the global economy.  I am confident we can use the Montreal Protocol to make another transition to materials with lower global warming impact.  As Chairman of the Clean Air Subcommittee, for years I’ve called on the Administration to tackle this issue and take more actions, ideally multilateral initiatives like this one, to fight climate change head-on. Harmful gases like hydrofluorocarbons account for a large proportion of greenhouse emissions, and as we continue to see the drastic effects of climate change like sea-level rise and increasingly powerful storms, the United States and countries around the world must continue working to reduce the amount of pollution we emit. This is a welcome step, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to do even more to stem the tide of climate change.”

As part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, several chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons, have been or are in the process of being phased out.  Their declining use, however, resulted in increased use of HFCs and continued damage to the earth’s climate. Though HFCs are not ozone-depleting substances, they contribute greatly to climate change and as a result negatively impact the earth’s already fragile atmosphere. Should their use go unchecked, HFCs could account for approximately 20 percent of greenhouse gas pollution by 2050, a proportion that would almost certainly lead to more harmful climate change.

Sen. Carper has long been a leader on reducing the harmful impact of HFCs on our environment. He sponsored legislative language that was included in the 2007 Lieberman-Warner climate change bill that was the first of its kind to address this issue, and subsequently was included in other climate change bills, and has encouraged the Administration to work on a multilateral basis to curb emissions of harmful HFCs.

The agreement between the United States and China regarding HFCs reads as follows:

Regarding HFCs, the United States and China agreed to work together and with other countries through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, while continuing to include HFCs within the scope of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol provisions for accounting and reporting of emissions.