December 6, 2022

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Remarks for HFC Lifecycle Management Workshop Event – United States Department of State

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Monica Medina, Assistant SecretaryBureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

Japan Pavilion of UNFCCC COP27

Thank you, Vice Minister Ono, for that kind introduction. Greetings to my fellow panelists and participants. I’m honored to join you today to share our expertise on reducing hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, and discuss how our actions will support global efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

HFCs are super-polluting greenhouse gases that are hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide. They are entirely man-made and used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, insulating foams, and aerosol propellants. HFCs make up only one percent of total greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, increasing demand for refrigeration and air-conditioning has led them to become some of the fastest growing greenhouse gases.

More production and consumption of HFCs means more emissions into the atmosphere – countering other efforts to avoid further global temperature rises. That is why we need a global phase down of HFC production and consumption. Replacing high-global-warming-potential (GWP) HFCs with next generation refrigerants, combined with improvements in energy efficiency, can help reduce emissions and prevent temperature rises.

Gobal implementation of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol requires parties to cut the production and consumption of HFCs by more than 80 percent over the next 30 years. This is huge. The world can prevent more than 70 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by the middle of the century. This would allow us to avoid 0.1° Celsius of warming by 2050 and avoid up to 0.5° Celsius more of warming by the end of the century.

The time to step up is now because time is not on our side. There can also be indirect benefits from a global HFC phase down. For example, we can improve the energy efficiency of the equipment we design as replacements, and see reductions in other air pollutants. The United States will take full advantage of this climate mitigation opportunity by using the institutions of the Montreal Protocol. Particularly the Multilateral Fund, where we can maximize the climate benefits of the HFC phasedown to gain even more benefits than what I already described.

Another way we can maximize these climate benefits is to increase the capture and reuse of HFCs already inside our refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. Yes, we can go beyond the requirements of the Kigali Amendment. The Biden Administration is leading by example. Our actions match our ambitions.

Ahead of our meeting here, the United States ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This paves the way to further global efforts to reduce HFCs through innovation and the manufacture of HFC alternatives. It’s also spurs economic development by supporting an estimated 33,000 new U.S. manufacturing jobs and generating $12.5 billion in new investments over the next decade. We can export new technologies to help countries access energy efficient products and low-GWP alternatives. And it’s going to reduce the demand for HFCs by facilitating the transition to next-generation technologies through sector-based restrictions.

The United States is working hard to phase down super polluting HFCs domestically under the “2020 American Innovation and Manufacturing Act,” or the AIM Act. Elements of the AIM Act include controlling the production and consumption of HFCs, and reclaiming and reusing HFCs that have already been produced. The AIM Act provisions on increasing opportunities for reclamation and releases are new for the HFC phasedown as compared to other ozone depleting substances covered by the Montreal Protocol. And this shows a growing recognition that this area is important for managing our transitions, and ensuring we are not leaving additional emissions reductions on the table.

Like all aspects of the HFC phasedown, efforts to minimize emissions requires close cooperation with our industry stakeholders. Rest assured that these efforts will contribute to achieving HFC emissions reductions and help us meet our climate goals. We appreciate the work undertaken by so many other countries that have ratified the Kigali Amendment and are working on new ways to reduce HFCs. Through our joint efforts, we will transition the world toward a net-zero economy. We must do everything we can to ensure we are successful in reducing HFCs and become more adaptive and resilient to climate change.

It’s an honor to be here alongside other panelists who are playing an important role in reducing HFCs to combat the climate crisis. Together, we can meet this moment and achieve our climate goals.  Thank you.

More from: Monica Medina, Assistant SecretaryBureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

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