To the Editor:
Recently, the U.S. Senate voted with broad bipartisan support to ratify a global treaty to phase out potent hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), a class of chemicals that contribute to climate change. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Senator Rob Portman (R) were among the 69 senators who voted in favor of the ratification.
The treaty is known as the Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol. The original Montreal Protocol limited the production of chemicals (including chloroflourocarbons, or CFCs) which are known to cause significant damage to the ozone layer of the atmosphere. This amendment to the treaty will also limit the production of potent hydroflourocarbons (also called HFCs). These chemicals, which are used as refrigerants, are known as ‘climate super-pollutants’ because they are hundreds to thousands of times as powerful as CO2 when it comes to accelerating climate change.
It is estimated that this action will prevent around 1 degree Fahrenheit of warming by the end of the century.
We have evidence that these sorts of treaties, along with strict international compliance, are effective. Just this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration reported that the concentration of ozone-depleting substances of the kind limited by the original Montreal Protocol have fallen to below 50% of the levels observed in 1980.
The progress has been slow, but it has been definite and steady. More work will be needed to reduce emissions sharply and quickly enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change, which we are already beginning to see, but the ratification of the Kigali Amendment is an important step in that process.
Thank you to Senators Brown and Portman for voting in favor of the Kigali Amendment. Hopefully we will see more bipartisan work to preserve our shared climate in the near future.