The Senate ratified an international climate treaty to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, powerful greenhouse gases used in air conditioning and refrigeration.
The vote was 69-27, with more than half of Republican senators opposed.
In 2016, the United Nations reached an agreement known as the Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Senators supporting ratification of the Kigali Amendment said its passage would help US industries lead the world in the creation of new ways of cooling.
“This measure will go a long way to lowering global temperatures, while creating tens of thousands of American jobs, and confronting China, which rarely participates in global cooperation when it comes to putting its economy and jobs ahead of ours.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
The Kigali amendment is supported by business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council. Proponents of ratification said it would prevent global warming by up to half a degree, benefiting manufacturers who develop alternative products.
“Today’s Senate vote was a decade-long and profound victory for the climate and the American economy,” said John Kerry, special envoy to the US presidency.
In 2020, Congress passed a bill directing the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly reduce HFCs in line with the goals of the Kigali Amendment. Last year, the Biden administration announced an 85% reduction in the use of HFCs over the next 15 years. And in May, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent ratification of the Kigali amendment to the Senate floor without opposition.
But since then, some Republicans have been wary that China accepted the pact on more favorable terms because it is considered a developing country. The Senate passed an amendment by GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Dan Sullivan of Alaska designed to ease some Republican concerns that the deal would treat China differently than other developed nations.
Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, a Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN that the pact gives “China an advantage it doesn’t deserve.”
“We need to stand up and start addressing China in these multilateral forums,” Hagerty said.