This Treaty Is Good for the Environment!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Climate change is adversely affecting ecosystems and livelihoods on planet earth. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol of 1987 is, technically, a climate-change deal - possibly the most important climate-change deal that most people have never heard of. Agreed to in October 2016 by delegates from 197 nations at a conference in Kigali, Rwanda, the accord sets hard targets for the global phaseout of chemical coolants called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. HFCs lack the ozone-destroying potency of their chlorofluorocarbon predecessors, which were banned by the original 1987 treaty. But, as greenhouse gases go, they are devastating, packing 1,000 times the heat-trapping punch of carbon dioxide.

Scientists estimate that the Kigali Amendment could prevent a warming of up to 0.44 degrees Celsius by century’s end, meaningful progress in the quest to hold temperature increases to under two degrees above preindustrial levels. When the accord was announced in 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed it “the biggest thing we can do in one giant swoop” to combat climate change.

The agreement took effect this January. So far, 72 countries have ratified it. The United States is not among them, and Mr. Trump shows no sign of submitting the deal for Senate approval.

This is hardly a shock, considering this president’s skepticism of climate change, regulation, multilateral treaties and anything that has former President Barack Obama’s fingerprints on it.

Sweeter still, domestic companies have long been working on next-generation replacements for HFCs and stand to benefit from the exploding global demand for air-conditioners and refrigerators.

Last May, 32 top executives from affected companies sent the president a letter urging ratification. Theirs was a purely economic case, laden with data aimed at Mr. Trump’s competitive instincts: projections that the deal would create 33,000 manufacturing jobs, increase exports by $5 billion and improve the balance of trade for their industries.

"Climate change is happening, humans are causing it, and I think this is perhaps the most serious environmental issue facing us.”

Bill Nye