Energy

Air Conditioner Lobby Wants Trump To Stick With This Obama-Era Climate Treaty

REUTERS/Leah Millis

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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U.S. industries have been largely supportive of President Donald Trump’s deregulation efforts, but there is one Obama-era rule they are hoping the White House keeps in place.

A trade group that represents around 300 different companies in the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration industries is encouraging Trump to keep in place a key amendment in the Montreal Protocol — a 30-year-old international treaty aiming to protect the atmosphere by eliminating the production of substances that deplete the ozone layer. The specific rule in question — known as the Kigali Amendment — calls for the phase out of hydrofluorocarbons, greenhouse gas found in heaters and refrigerators.

There is a simple reason companies affected by the upcoming regulation are in support of keeping it: they already spent millions preparing for the rule change — they don’t want their investments to be for nothing.

Named after the Rwandan city it was ratified in, the Kigali Amendment was adopted by the U.S. in October 2016 — months before Trump entered office. While the president has been vocal about his disapproval of the Paris Climate Accord, he has not made a public stand against Kigali. Supporters of the rule want to curry his favor. Air conditioning companies — represented mainly by the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and the Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute  — have boosted White House lobbying efforts with the release of a new report that makes an economic case for keeping the regulations.

The U.S. would reap major economic benefits if it officially adopts the Kigali Amendment, the report, JMS Consulting conducted, found. Such gains include 33,000 additional jobs within the next decade, more exports and fewer imports. Additionally, the U.S. would lose a big share of air-conditioning product demand to China and other developing countries if the government decides to pull out of the deal, the report determined.

While Trump has a tendency to favor repeal of regulations enacted under his predecessor, the Montreal Protocol traces its origins with former President Ronald Reagan — someone Trump greatly admires. After Reagan signed the Montreal Protocol in 1988, the international agreement has made significant progress in healing the hole in the ozone layer.

The Kigali Amendment is to go into affect in January 2019, but the administration would need to send it to the Senate for approval.

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