Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the Senate voting to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
Thirty five years ago this month, every nation on Earth came together for the first time in human history to sign onto a global accord to save the planet’s dying Ozone layer. It was a convergence unlike any before, uniting not just every member of the United Nations, but in time also the European Union and even the Holy See.
That accord, of course, was the Montreal Protocol, hailed by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date.”
Today, the Senate will finish the work of ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the protocol, when we vote later today here on the floor.
Ratifying the Kigali Amendment will require two-thirds of the Senate, and I want thank every single member—Democratic and Republican alike—who voted yesterday to move forward on this measure. Our country, our businesses, and our planet will benefit because of it. I hope we can see that same level of support today.
In a year where we’ve already seen plenty of major bipartisan bills become law, the Kigali Amendment might just be one of the most important bipartisan achievements to date—less heralded, but maybe more important—because this measure will go a long way to lowering global temperatures while also creating tens of thousands of American jobs, and deal with the fact that China rarely participates in global cooperation when it comes to putting their own economy and jobs ahead of ours.
As I’ve explained, the Kigali Amendment will signal the U.S.’s commitment to phase down the use of dangerous industrial chemicals known as HFCs by 80% over the next fifteen years. HFCs are found in practically every home in America and around the world, inside the vast majority of refrigerators, air conditioner units, aerosols, insulating foams, and more.
Experts say that if we can meet the goals set forth by the Kigali Amendment, we can reduce global temperatures by about half a degree Celsius by the end of the century. That’s huge! We struggle to get that increase down and this is a big, big step forward for that. Half a degree might seem like a rounding error to some, but in truth it is very, very, very significant.
But equally significant, however, are the tens of billions in new investments that will be up for grabs if we ratify this amendment.
Every year, millions and millions of refrigerators and A/C units are sold around the world, and the U.S. ranks near the top of refrigerator exporters. All of these products will need viable HFC refrigerant alternatives moving forward, and we need to take every step available to make sure those alternatives are provided by American companies and American workers, driven by American ingenuity.
By one measure, ratifying the Kigali Amendment will generate nearly $39 billion in investments here in America in the next five years, when combined with other steps we’ve taken to transition away from HFCs. It will create tens of thousands of new American jobs and increase U.S. heating, ventilation, and refrigeration exports by 25%, in a few short years, by 2027.
Let me say all that again.
Tens of thousands in new American jobs. Nearly $39 billion in new investments. A surge in U.S. exports.
All of that is on the table if we finish our work to ratify this amendment today. There is every reason in the world to say yes.
There is really no downside to ratification. The Kigali Amendment will not overrule or change any current U.S. law. It will require no one to replace their appliances at home. The U.S. will be able to lead the international process of implementing Kigali, ensuring U.S. businesses will set the terms of implementation that benefit them. And Congress will be perfectly free to change domestic policy to adapt to new technologies without having to worry about this agreement.
Even without the Kigali Amendment, the U.S. has already taken steps to transition away from HFCs, and U.S. businesses have been the ones leading the way. So, it’s no surprise that groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Chemistry Council, the Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute, and even companies like Walmart and Honeywell all support the Kigali Amendment.
So in many ways, the this is a sort of a legislative layup. It is low hanging fruit to secure billions in growth and tens of thousands of good paying jobs. Again, there is every reason in the world to say yes, and practically no reason to say no.
So, for the sake of U.S. businesses, for the sake of U.S. workers, for the sake of U.S. exporters and U.S. investment, and for the sake of U.S. leadership in safeguarding our planet, I urge my colleagues to vote yes on ratifying the Kigali Amendment later today.