Expert Ben Lieberman tells Fox Business, climate agreement will force US consumers to buy more expensive environmentally friendly equipment
The Senate on Wednesday approved a bipartisan measure that ratifies a decades-old United Nations climate agreement that curtails the use of a chemical found in household appliances.
Democrats and more than a dozen Republicans voted to ratify the so-called Kigali Amendment during a floor vote on Wednesday afternoon. The treaty was first introduced under the Montreal Protocol to the United Nations in 1987 and has since been ratified by 138 international parties, including the European Union.
The Kigali amendment requires signatories to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), commonly found in refrigerators and air conditioners, by 85% by 2033. Environmentalists and lawmakers have pushed for HFC cuts, arguing that the chemical is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
However, experts warn that ratifying the pact would increase consumer prices for the devices as manufacturers would be forced to replace products that have HFCs with next-generation technologies. He said that due to short supply, the cost of repair of old equipment along with HFCs would also increase.
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“HFCs are essential refrigerants to run your home air conditioner, your car air conditioner, and your refrigerator,” Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute specializing in environmental policy, told Fox Business in an interview. “Millions of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment that you can see in commercial properties or restaurant kitchens or supermarkets or many small businesses.”
“If any of these devices leaks and the refrigerant needs to be recharged, it’s going to cost more as supplies decrease and prices rise,” he continued. “The new equipment will also be more expensive because it is designed to use one of these HFC-free, environmentally friendly refrigerants, which tend to cost more.”
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Lieberman noted that the federal government has already moved on to regulations limiting the use of HFCs in appliances. He warned that an international treaty, however, would be harder to reverse than a federal regulation.
The bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, passed by Congress and signed by former President Donald Trump in 2020, authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to phase out 85% of HFCs over the next 15 years. The Biden administration unveiled a series of actions last year to curb HFCs.
“We’re dealing now with a situation where American consumers are getting hit by inflation on goods like food, fuel, products, appliances and then we’re going to add a regulatory ban on that that raises costs for all Americans concerned. Something that’s really important to people—especially in the southern states or hot climates in the Southwest—that is air conditioning,” Brett Schaefer, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital in an interview. .
“It also pertains to businesses like convenience stores, grocery stores and others, which use a lot of air conditioning and cooling equipment in the course of their normal businesses,” he said. “So, it could potentially add significant costs down the road for Americans.”
He said the government should pursue HFC restrictions through domestic legislation so that it can be reversed if consumer costs become too high.
In 2018, Schaefer co-authored a report detailing how the Kigali modification would lead to higher costs. The report also noted that the Kigali Amendment is primarily supported by environmentalists who advocate for the elimination of all greenhouse gases and business interests “which stand to benefit from the phase-out of cheap HFCs.”
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“It’s going to be a big money maker for them,” Lieberman said. “It moves the market towards more expensive products.”
National Association of Manufacturers; Chamber of Commerce; American Chemistry Council, Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); and the Coalition for Responsible Atmospheric Policy are among groups that have supported the Kigali Amendment ratification.
An NHRI spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “Our manufacturers are world leaders. We sell 75% of the equipment used in the rest of the world and our manufacturers sell more than 95% here.” “So, this is an area we already dominate and we are a leader globally and it just keeps the global competitiveness going, at the same time, still keeps China’s feet on fire.”
The spokesman said the next decade would be affected by trade sanctions if the US did not join the deal.
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On Wednesday, many Republicans who opposed the treaty criticized it for benefiting China. But an amendment, filed by censors Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, changed its “developing nation” status to ensure China was not given additional time to comply with HFC cuts. was heavily approved in 96-0. Vote.
John Kennedy, R-La, have pushed for ratification, however, saying it would strengthen American industry.
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“Formalizing US support for the Kigali Amendment will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost US exports, strengthen America’s manufacturing industry, and create more jobs for workers here at home,” Kennedy and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., wrote in Washington. The Times editorial in April’s “What’s Not to Like in It?”
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