Student Opinion: Climate Change Plans Attached to Coronavirus Relief Bill

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By Jose Orozco

On Dec. 21, Congress passed a coronavirus relief bill with several measures to fight climate change in the upcoming years. The main point of focus is cutting hydrofluorocarbon use from refrigerants and air conditioners. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are industrial chemicals that trap heat dramatically more than greenhouse gases. 

President Donald Trump will be signing the bill that follows the Kigali agreement, requiring companies to decrease HFCs’ production. 

According to The New York Times, companies must “phase down production and consumption of HFCs to about 15 percent of 2012 levels by 2036. The phase-down will be administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.”  

CNBC reports that HFCs will be reduced by 85 percent over the upcoming 15 years

This is a great step forward towards combating climate change. Soon, President-Elect Joe Biden will take office and continue this path to reducing our carbon footprint.  

Biden will rejoin the Paris Agreement and set forth his plan to fight climate change. The future looks to be on the right path. 

 The New York Times reports: “U.S. companies are already the leaders with the technology that has been developed to replace the less environmentally-friendly refrigerants. This bill is a victory for the manufacturers of all these products.”

And not only will this improve the environment, but it will also create thousands of jobs.  

This mandate is not necessarily groundbreaking since many companies have already implemented the phase-down of HFCs for several years. Instead, it is a statement showing that the U.S. government is willing to commit time and resources to this cause. 

Along with HFC, the bill has taken $35 billion of government funding instead of clean energy programs over the next five years.

The New York Times enumerated the spending as follows: $1 billion for energy storage technology, $1.5 billion for new solar technology, $2.1 billion for nuclear energy technology and $450 million for technology to remove carbon dioxide.

This is much more than what we could have asked for in the coronavirus relief bill, and it is a good surprise to see that legislation is put in place to take care of global warming. 

Especially, as The Washington Post relates, a United Nations climate report “found that nations’ current plans to reduce greenhouse gasses are just one-fifth of what’s needed to avoid catastrophic warming.” 

According to UN reports, if coronavirus stimulus spending includes heavy investment in renewable energy, it could trim up to 25 percent of the expected 2030 emissions. 

 Without a doubt, this would be a great achievement for the entire world. If every leader becomes willing to partake in such an endeavor, carbon emissions will greatly reduce.

The U.S. has increasingly pulled away from this global concern at the hands of President Trump. This was a bad showing for a leading nation, but Congress has begun to change this position.

 This new bill will allow us to see how much of an impact $35 billion will have on reducing climate change. Certainly, we only expect good outcomes from this bill, and since this is our first run at things, we can learn. 

 The U.S. will soon be a prominent leader working to improve the global warming dilemma. Biden will hopefully embark on a journey to improve matters that should have been handled a long time ago. 

For instance, the HFC bill should have been done years ago––knowing that other more environmentally friendly alternatives exist. There should have been more of an incentive to regulate the production of such harmful chemicals.

 For one, it is sad to see that Congress took over two years to follow along with the other 65 countries that joined in the Kigali Agreement. Overall, however, this is a good step that makes one hopeful for a better future. 

Jose Orozco is a fourth-year student majoring in English at UC Davis. He is from the San Joaquin area.

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        1. Eric Gelber

          Just re-read your post. Hadn’t noticed you wrote “have been being” rather than just “are being” or “have been,” either of which would have been clearer. I guess I overlooked the “being.” Sorry.

  1. Bill Marshall

    The bills will probably either be directly vetoed (defense) or “pocket vetoed” (Covid-related, other)… timing of both sux, as both houses have adjourned… no chance for override… a “poison pill” if you will… Congress should have passed the legislations a month ago, so as not to open the door for “the poison pill”… [Republicans probably knew this, and wanted to pass blame off to the new administration]

    And yes, both pieces of legislation are indeed local matters, in their effects on local folk…

    So, “on topic”…


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