US aiming to reach new refrigerant emissions deal

US aiming to reach new refrigerant emissions deal

Officials hope to reach a deal next week to phase down the global use of a warming-causing refrigerant chemical. 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyLawmakers rally to keep Pruitt from transparently restricting science EPA says it abandoned plan for office in Pruitt’s hometown Overnight Energy: Pruitt blames staff for controversies | Ex-Obama official to head new Harvard climate center | Electric vehicles on road expected to triple MORE said she and other negotiators are hoping to finalize a deal on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) during an international meeting in Rwanda next week. 

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“We are incredibly well-positioned for success in Kigali,” where the meeting will be held, McCarthy told reporters Wednesday. 

HFCs are used in air condition and refrigeration, and they have a potent impact on climate change. Officials estimate an international deal to reduce their use could prevent 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100, which McCarthy said would be the biggest impact negotiators could take toward the climate change goals enshrined in the Paris climate agreement.

Countries have been working toward an HFC amendment to the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to protect the ozone layer, since last year.

McCarthy said they made progress on the matter during a summer meeting in Vienna, and she noted a declaration from the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last month calling for an HFC deal.

But she acknowledged more work needs to happen before an agreement is complete, with details to work out on both the speed with which to phase down the chemical and funding for developing countries looking to reduce it. 

An agreement with India appears to be one of the major sticking points. Indian officials last week said they were committed to a later draw-down date than those pushed by the U.S.

“India is a significant player in the discussion, but if you remember, India and the U.S. were pretty far off on the Paris agreement and also on ratifying it and getting it into force,” McCarthy said. 

“There is, right now, a sequence of success in working with India to address climate challenges in an aggressive way.”