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US finalises HFC phase down plans

USA: The Biden administration has today announced that the Environmental Protection Agency will release a new rule to phase down HFCs by 85% within the next 15 years.

Today’s actions build on a foundation of widespread support from Democrats and Republicans, industry leaders, and environmental organisations, all of whom supported the bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act passed last year. 

The US is also taking steps to prevent illegal trade, support the development of HFC alternatives and promote the recovery and reclamation of existing stocks.

Today’s actions will bring the USA in line with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. As directed in the AIM Act, the final rule will see the phase down the production and consumption of HFCs by 85% below baseline levels within the next 15 years. 

The EPA’s rule is said to establish an allowance allocation and trading programme to reduce HFCs, and creates a robust compliance and enforcement system. In addition, EPA is committing to addressing the use of HFCs in products, and says it is currently reviewing more than a dozen petitions to restrict HFC use in a wide range of applications. 

Countering illegal trade

Keen to avoid the problems experienced in Europe, the US is creating an interagency task force on illegal HFC trade led by the Department of Homeland Security, the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, and EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

A White House statement says: “The Illegal trade in HFCs poses a fundamental risk to America’s climate and economic goals. If the United States were to see rates of noncompliance similar to what has been observed in other countries, the result could be as much as 43-90 million metric tons of additional carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions in a single year, which is roughly equal to the annual emissions from 22 coal-fired power plants. 

“This high level of non-compliance would put US businesses at a competitive disadvantage and discourage innovation in HFC alternatives.

“In partnership with the Departments of Justice, State, and Defense, these agencies will execute a strategy to detect, deter, and disrupt any attempt to illegally import or produce HFCs in the United States.

This will include establishing a certification ID system to track the movement of HFCs, establishing administrative consequences and the enforcement of civil and criminal violations of the law.”

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