U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today announced their plans to introduce legislation aimed at reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). SLCPs, referred to as "super pollutants," are non-carbon dioxide greenhouse pollutants that cause 40 percent of global warming. SLCPs range from methane that is leaked by landfills and oil and gas exploration, to refrigerants leaking from refrigerators and air conditioners, to soot from diesel engines and millions of traditional cookstoves all over the developing world. Studies show that fast action to reduce SLCPs in the atmosphere could cut the rate of sea level rise by 25 percent, almost halve the rate of temperature rise, prevent two million premature deaths each year, and avoid crop losses of over 30 million tons annually.
These super pollutants can be tackled quickly and effectively. Furthermore, the United States is already a leader in the technologies needed to drive reductions. The United States is well-positioned to employ alternatives to the chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning, do a better job of replacing older cookstoves and diesel engines that produce black carbon, and harness fugitive methane seeping out of landfills, wastewater plants, and pipelines.
The proposed legislation will help reduce SLCPs in the atmosphere by taking a number of steps to enable federal agencies to work with the business and non-profit communities to speed the adoption of SLCP-reducing technologies and policies, all while supporting American-led innovations to reduce these pollutants. For example, the legislation would:
Foster interagency cooperation on super pollutants;
Prioritize commonsense emissions reduction strategies, and employ existing federal authorities and diplomatic programs;
Recycle high-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants;
Mitigate methane leaks;
Expand access to diesel-scrubbing technologies.
"Short-lived climate pollutants are the problem too few people are talking about, but are doing some of the worst damage to the atmosphere," said Murphy. "As we work to combat threats to our climate, we can't leave short-lived pollutants out of the equation. Our bill will take these dangerous pollutants head on by making smarter use of tools already at our disposal here in the U.S. This is a bipartisan proposal to address a global threat, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help us reduce these super pollutants."
"I am pleased to be working with Senator Murphy on this bipartisan legislation to address short-lived climate pollutants, an area where the U.S. is already poised to be a leader," said Collins. "With improved interagency cooperation and through commonsense efforts to reduce the emissions of these super pollutants, this proposal aims to meaningfully and quickly help slow climate warming."
David Doniger, Director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at NRDC said, "We applaud Senators Murphy and Collins for adding legislative muscle to the fight to curb key pollutants that are driving dangerous changes in our climate. We have long known that heat-trapping pollutants besides carbon dioxide, such as methane and HFCs, also are worsening the climate. It's time to start reducing these super pollutants because, if unchecked, they could make up more than 20 percent of our climate-changing pollution by midcentury."
"There are immediate actions the United States can take to meet its obligations under the Montreal Protocol to reduce ozone depletion and greenhouse gas emissions," said John Mandyck, United Technologies Building and Industrial Systems chief sustainability officer. "By closing a loophole that permits the use of ozone-depleting residential air conditioning units, Senator Murphy's legislation promotes both ozone protection and improved energy efficiency of newer systems. The legislation also recognizes the appropriate role of the Montreal Protocol in advancing ozone protection, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, calibrated to the pace of technology developments and the availability of proven, energy-efficient alternatives."
Dupont said, "DuPont applauds the bipartisan leadership of Senators Murphy and Collins in seeking sensible, cost effective reductions in the use and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that exhibit high global warming potentials (GWP). The HFC policies contained in their Super Pollutants Act of 2014 reflect the kinds of common sense approaches that have widespread support in both the business and NGO communities."
"The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves applauds Senators Murphy and Collins' leadership in addressing rising levels of short-lived climate pollutants and black carbon, and their recognition of the role that clean cookstoves and fuels can play in mitigating emissions of these harmful pollutants," said Radha Muthiah, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. "We look forward to contributing to this effort through the Alliance's market-based approach to the adoption of clean cooking solutions."
"The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy appreciates the bipartisan leadership of Senators Murphy and Collins in seeking sensible, cost-effective reductions in the use and emissions of HFCs that exhibit a high global warming potential," said Kevin Fay, Executive Director of the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy. "The HFC policies contained in this legislation emphasize the use of measured, technologically-viable and market-oriented solutions, including the mechanisms of the Montreal Protocol, to answer the growing global call to address HFCs. This legislation recognizes that alternatives to high GWP HFCs should be pursued to provide not only increased benefit to the Earth's climate themselves, but also enhance the energy efficiency and safety of their application. The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy commends Senators Murphy and Collins for bringing the attention of Congress to this important issue, and encourages other Senators to support these common sense proposals for addressing HFCs."