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US and China Work Together to Confront Climate Change

11 Jun 2013  |   Hannah Blatt

Tags: General Political, General Environment, International

President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping came together on Saturday and forged an important agreement to phase out the use and production of hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), a chemical that is primarily used as a coolant in our refrigerators and air conditioners. This is a critical step towards tackling the climate crisis, because it will address one of the most potent heat-trapping greenhouse gases that is emitted into our air. 

Many people recognized the importance of the agreement, including Representative Henry Waxman, Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, who released this statement:

The agreement with China to address HFCs is a tremendous accomplishment for the President and his diplomatic team, and a big step forward on climate. The United States and China working together to tackle climate change is a major breakthrough.  A global phase-down of HFCs would eliminate more heat-trapping gases by 2050 than the United States emits in an entire decade.

The bold move by the U.S. and China could also help convince other more reluctant countries to phase down their use of HFCs. According to the Washington Post

The agreement between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday to wind down the production and consumption of a class of chemicals commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners could mark a key step toward eliminating some of the most potent greenhouse gases.

The United States and roughly 100 other countries have already pledged to seek substitutes.

For the first time, the United States and China will work together to persuade other countries, most notably holdouts such as Brazil and India, to join the effort to slash or eliminate the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

The chemical group currently accounts for only 2 percent of greenhouse gases, but consumption is growing exponentially as people in developing countries grow wealthy enough to purchase air conditioners. A global push to get rid of HFCs could potentially reduce the greenhouse gases by the equivalent of 90 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050, equal to roughly two years’ worth of current global greenhouse gas emissions, experts estimate.

Click here to read the full Washington Post article. 

(Photograph was found on the photograph page on the White House website.)

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