Latest COVID-19 relief includes legislation on climate change

December 22, 2020 by  
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A $35 billion investment in clean power and other climate initiatives hitched a ride on the latest COVID-19 relief package. Backed by Senate Republicans as well as Democrats, the legislation will be the first significant climate change law in more than a decade — if it gets past President Trump’s desk this week. “This agreement protects both American consumers and American businesses,” said Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, as reported by The New York Times . “We can have clean air without damaging our economy.” Related: Biden promises US-led climate summit in 2021 One of the most important parts of this new legislation is a requirement for manufacturers to phase out coolants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs are a small percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they have a disproportionate effect. HFCs have 1,000 times the ability to trap heat compared to carbon dioxide. In 2016, 197 nations agreed that HFCs had to go. They signed what’s called the Kigali agreement because it was signed in Kigali, Rwanda. Scientists say that if all nations complied with phasing out HFCs, it could prevent an atmospheric temperature increase of almost 1°F. An atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6°F would be catastrophic, so ending HFCs could be of great help in avoiding this. Trump never ratified the Kigali agreement, instead opposing efforts to curb HFCs. This new legislation requires companies to decrease HFC production and consumption to about 15% of the 2012 levels by 2036. The EPA will oversee this phase-out. U.S. chemical companies strongly support phasing out HFCs, and most have already turned to climate-friendlier alternatives. If nobody could use HFCs, those who have already made the responsible choice will be at a more financially competitive advantage. Stephen Yurek was in Kigali in 2016, and, as chief executive of the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, has been lobbying lawmakers since. “U.S. companies are already the leaders with the technology that has been developed to replace the less environmentally friendly refrigerants,” he said. “This bill is a victory for the manufacturers of all these products — not just the refrigerants; the equipment and component manufacturers.” Now the legislation’s proponents are crossing their fingers that Trump won’t stall it. Yurek said he didn’t even want to use the word “climate” when discussing the bill. “We didn’t want to give him any excuse to not sign it.” Via The New York Times Image via Tim Hüfner

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Latest COVID-19 relief includes legislation on climate change

The ozone is finally healing and could be completely repaired by 2060

November 7, 2018 by  
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Finally, some good news about the environment. Earlier this week, the United Nations announced in a report that the ozone layer is on the mend. If the current recovery rate continues, parts of the ozone could be fully repaired by the 2030s. The entire layer — even the highly damaged parts over the North Pole and South Pole — could be completely healed by 2060. The study, Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018 , monitors ozone recovery, and it is the latest in a series of reports that the UN releases every four years. This year, it shows that the ozone has been recovering at a steady rate of 1 to 3 percent since 2000 because of the global efforts made to reduce CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals. Related: Levels of ozone-destroying CFCs are mysteriously rising Over the past few decades, humans have done significant damage to the ozone layer, which protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. But through global agreements like the 1987 Montreal Protocol, we have made huge steps toward healing it. The protocol mandated that countries phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals. The EPA has described it as the most successful environmental global action in history, with 197 countries signing the agreement. “If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that,” said Paul Newman, a NASA scientist and co-chairman of the new UN report. Newman added that if we hadn’t made these changes, two-thirds of the ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065. Scientists have cautioned against claiming victory too soon. Banned CFC emissions are increasing in China , but the Chinese government has promised to fix the problem. Newman said we need to wait until 2060, and let our grandchildren do the celebrating. Still, these recent findings could help contribute to future climate action. In 2019, the Montreal Protocol is set to be enhanced with the Kigali Amendment, which hopes to tackle climate change by targeting greenhouse gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration. + Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018 Via Huffington Post Image via Shutterstock

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The ozone is finally healing and could be completely repaired by 2060

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