The Biden administration has taken another significant step in addressing climate change by issuing a final rule aimed at reducing the use of hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), as reported by Reuters on July 11. HFCs are gases commonly found in refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosols, and foam products, and their impact on the climate can be hundreds to thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the final rule will implement a 40% reduction in HFC use below historic levels from 2024 to 2028, building upon a 10% phase-down already in place for 2022 and 2023.
The Biden administration’s efforts to combat climate change extend beyond the reduction of HFCs. The administration has implemented a series of rules targeting power and vehicle emissions, as well as greenhouse gas methane. These collective measures are projected to result in a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to approximately 15 billion metric tonnes, between 2022 and 2055, according to EPA administrator Michael Regan. To regulate the use of HFCs, the EPA employs an allowance allocation program and enforcement mechanisms. Industries are allocated a specific number of allowances, which gradually decrease over time, to import and produce HFCs. In addition to the final rule, the EPA has planned two more regulatory steps for this year. The first step will restrict the use of HFCs to facilitate the transition to alternative chemicals, while the second step will propose requirements for the management of HFCs and HFC substitutes in air conditioners and other equipment.