WASHINGTON (December 21, 2020) -- As part of the sweeping legislation passed by Congress ahead of the holiday break, Congress has passe̶̶̶d the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, a bill that will substantially phase down both the consumption and production of some of the most powerful greenhouse gases.
“This bill represents one of the strongest actions that Congress has taken to directly address climate change,” said Michael Obeiter, senior director of federal climate strategy at the National Audubon Society. “The fact that this legislation has the support of both the industrial and environmental communities is a welcome sign of a greener future for both people and wildlife.”
The bill requires phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by 40% by 2024, and by 85% by 2036. HFCs and CFCs can be many thousands of times more potent that carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere, and some are also detrimental to the ozone layer. Both categories of gases were at one time widely used in refrigerating systems, but over the past decade, less harmful alternatives have become widely available.
A 2019 study from the National Audubon Society found that unless immediate action is taken to reduce the current rate of global temperature rise, two-thirds of North America’s birds will be vulnerable to extinction. Efforts like reducing harmful emissions like CFCs and HFCs go a long way to preserving wildlife, and the places that both they and people need to survive.
“Our science shows that birds are telling us that we need to do everything we can to combat the devastating effects of climate change,” said Obeiter. “We need the robust participation of every sector to succeed, and this bill represents an important way forward.”
The bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency to publish a rule establishing strict allowance allocations and trading programs for HFCs and CFCs. With its passage, the U.S. also joins 110 countries that have agreed to reduce their production and consumption of HFCs through their ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.