The Fight for the Air Conditioner: How World Leaders Are Stopping These Systems in Their Tracks

As of right now, there are over 300 bills waiting for Senate action. One bill, however, has been deemed so important that it has gotten the attention of the world, and it all has to do with air conditioning units.

This past week, nations from around the world came to an agreement at a global emissions conference to limit the use of greenhouse gasses all over the world. This conference, set in Kigali, Rwanda, is the first major meeting of nations since the historic Paris Agreement of 2015.

Where the Paris Agreement was a decision to cut carbon emissions globally — mainly carbon dioxide– this new agreement focuses on gasses more powerful and dangerous than carbon dioxide. Known as hydrofluorocarbons, these HFCs are far more powerful than any other greenhouse gas and were originally developed as a substitute for ozone-depleting gasses.

However, after a few years, these gasses were found to be more dangerous than predicted. HFCs are primarily found in air conditioning units, refrigerators, insulating foams, and medical inhalers.

Secretary of State John Kerry is extremely passionate about eradicating these gasses for good. He explained to the delegations that HFCs currently emit as much pollution as 300 coal-fired power plants each year and that this number will rise significantly as the global population increases.

The agreement states that developing countries will start capping their use of HFCs by 2019 and that larger consumers, such as the U.S. and China, will start taking action by 2024. These two countries are the two worst world polluters globally.

Not all countries are happy with these deadlines. Many developing countries, including India and Pakistan, asked to start later in 2029. While they claim their economies need time to grow and adapt to their booming populations, they were denied.

Many environmental activists are thrilled the countries decided to start earlier, as they hoped the global agreement would reduce global warming by half a degree Celsius by the end of this century. As it stands now, the agreement will get about 90% of the original goal.

Overall, the new agreement is “equal to stopping the entire world’s fossil-fuel CO2 emissions for more than two years,” explains David Doniger, climate and clean air program director with the Natural Resources Defense Council to USA Today.

Not to mention that this agreement marks the largest worldwide temperature reduction ever achieved by a single agreement in history.

Country leaders are also sure to let citizens of their country know that there are different things they can do every day in order to prevent excessive air conditioning use. One example is using proper landscaping, as this method can reduce the need for central air conditioning by up to 50%.

Global leaders aren’t the only ones around the world getting involved with climate change. The chemical industry has recently joined the fight against greenhouse gasses, as they believe climate change will disrupt their own industries.

Companies Honeywell and Chemours were two of the most active supporters of the agreement in Rwanda. Citing fierce competition for the fast-growing air conditioning and refrigeration businesses, these companies are itching to become the first to create environmentally friendly alternatives.

There are concerns that these chemical companies had too much influence in the Kigali deal. Environmentalists believe that these large enterprises will monopolize the environmental sector, which would then consolidate the power of the world’s biggest companies and pose a threat to small businesses.

Honeywell is already on its way to economic success. Ever since it started selling HFC alternatives, its business has grown over $1 billion.

But, the company believes they are doing more good for the environment than bad.

Kenneth Gayer, vice president of fluorine products at Honeywell explains to The New York Times, “We anticipated the need for these regulations before people were even talking about global warming. Now, the world is going to use alternatives in a big way.”

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