By Tara Vamos

In a year in which Washington politics has been characterized by polarization and an utter disregard for the environment, I am thankful for Congress members Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, bucking those trends and co-sponsoring the AIM Act of 2020, signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The AIM Act creates a timetable to end the sale of non-recycled refrigerants with the highest greenhouse warming potential. We need refrigerants to operate our air conditioning and refrigeration systems, but some older types of refrigerants are as much as 4,000 times more potent with greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. Each year, the refrigerants leaked from U.S. supermarket refrigeration systems alone have the same greenhouse warming effect as burning 49 billion tons of coal.

I hope this bipartisan effort is the start of more successful collaborations on legislation to reduce these climate pollutants. Besides phasing down older refrigerant chemicals with larger carbon dioxide footprints, major reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions could be achieved by creating extended producer responsibility agreements, by tightening regulations and enforcement on leak rates, and by encouraging the capture and recycling of refrigerants.

I look forward to Tonko and Stefanik continuing their leadership on refrigerant management in 2021.

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