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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Kigali Amendment To The Montreal Protocol

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of today’s vote on cloture on the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Later today, the Senate will take the first step towards ratifying an amendment to one of the most successful international environmental agreements in modern history, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

Members can expect to cast the first vote on cloture later this afternoon after the weekly party lunches. Today’s vote will require sixty votes in the affirmative to move forward. And since the Kigali Amendment is part of a treaty, we will require two thirds of the chamber to ultimately ratify this provision.

The Kigali Amendment will be one of the most significant bipartisan measures the Senate takes on all year, and that’s saying something, because we have done a lot.

It would affirm our country’s intention to phase down the use of Hydrofluorocarbons—commonly known as HFCs—by 85 percent over the next 15 years. Experts say this step alone could prevent half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of the twenty first century. Is that incredible? Half a degree! We struggle to get there. And this one measure would do it. That may not seem like much, but within the larger context of global temperatures, it is really, very significant.

There are two paths our country can take, depending on what we do with the Kigali Amendment.

If we ratify this treaty, not only will we protect our planet, but this is an economic issue and an issue to go after China, which is a rogue nation in this regard. It will provide us a golden opportunity to help American businesses dominate in an emerging business.

Every year, millions of refrigerators and A/C units are sold around the world, and in the United States many families own more than one refrigerator. That’s a lot of appliances that will need HFC alternatives, which US businesses, particularly, already are working to prepare for.

By one measure, the combined impact of ratifying the Kigali Amendment—and other steps we’ve taken to reduce HFCs—would create 150,000 new jobs and generate nearly $39 billion in investment by 2027, as new markets open up for trade. So this, in many ways, is a pro-jobs measure, one supported by the Chamber of Commerce, by major retailers like Walmart, by the Semiconductor Industry Association, and many other business groups.

If we fail to ratify the amendment, the rest of the world is going to move on without us.

Without Kigali, we’re going to play second fiddle to nations like China, whose businesses will surpass ours in developing viable HFC alternatives, taking jobs that by all rights belong here in America.

And by 2033, parties to Kigali will be prohibited—prohibited—from any trade in HFCs with non-Kigali nations. We’ll lose out tens of billions of dollars of sales.

There’s no reason to have that happen. Ratifying Kigali will not require any change in the current U.S. law. We already have domestic policies phasing out HFCs here at home, so we are putting into practice many of the reforms the Kigali Amendment calls for. And no consumer will have to change any appliance.

So for the sake of U.S. businesses, for the sake of U.S. innovators, for the sake of making sure China has to comply and be part of the world community—and not do what they think is just good for themselves, which seems to be President Xi's way of doing things, I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of advancing the Kigali Amendment later today. It is low-hanging fruit for creating tens of thousands of good paying jobs right here at home.