The new EPA rule, first proposed in May, will lower the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) 85 percent over the next 15 years. HFCs have a thousand times the heat-trapping potency of carbon dioxide and often leak through pipes or appliances that use compressed refrigerants like air-conditioners and refrigerators.
The White House says the rule will cut the equivalent of three years’ worth of climate pollution from the electricity sector, and is an important way to show America’s commitment to dealing with climate change before the upcoming climate summit in Glasgow.
Business interests that use HFCs are largely supportive of the rule, telling the New York Times it is “good for the environment, good for the economy, and good for trade.” A growing number of refrigerator and air-conditioning manufacturers have already moved to limit their use of HFCs and offer new models that use a more climate-friendly alternative.
Scientists estimate that a global push to reduce HFCs could avoid a half degree Celsius of global warming over this century.