When former US president Barack Obama wanted to rein in climate change, he favored sticks over carrots. His centerpiece policy was the Clean Power Plan, a regulation developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit carbon emissions from power plants. That plan was quickly challenged in court, rolled back by the Trump administration, and ultimately abandoned in Feb. by Joe Biden. During his turn in the White House, Biden seems to have learned from his former boss, and has so far chosen carrots such as the $2 trillion infrastructure proposal dominated by clean energy.
The Biden administration is now wielding its first regulatory stick: new limits on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), an extremely potent greenhouse gas used in air conditioning and refrigeration. In a statement on May 3, EPA administrator Michael Regan said the agency will enact a new regulation to phase down the production and importation of HFCs in the US by 85% below the 2011-13 average over the next 15 years. That would bring the US in line with the minimum requirements of a 2016 amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty on ozone gases, addressing HFCs. While the US is a signatory to the treaty, it never ratified the subsequent amendment, which called for a global reduction of HFC use to about 15% of the 2011-12 average by 2036.
Industry wants to head off more regulation