WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced the reintroduction of the Super Pollutants Act of 2015 – the U.S. Senate’s first bipartisan climate bill of 2015, which aims to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). The legislation will reduce SLCPs in the atmosphere by enabling federal agencies to work with the business and non-profit communities to speed the adoption of SLCP-reducing technologies and policies, while supporting American-led innovations. Murphy and Collins announced the introduction of the Super Pollutants Act ahead of Pope Francis’ highly anticipated address to a joint session of Congress this upcoming Thursday. Earlier this year, Pope Francis called on the world’s leaders and policymakers to take meaningful action to curb climate change. 

SLCPs, referred to as “super pollutants,” are non-carbon dioxide greenhouse emissions responsible for an increasing share of global warming. SLCPs range from refrigerants leaking from refrigerators and air conditioners, to soot from diesel engines and cookstoves, to methane that is leaked by landfills and oil and gas exploration. Studies show that fast action to reduce SLCPs in the atmosphere could cut the rate of sea level rise by 25 percent, almost halve the rate of temperature rise, prevent two million premature deaths each year, and avoid crop losses of over 30 million tons annually. The United States is already a leader in the technologies needed to drive reductions and, in the case of fluorinated gases – including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – is well-positioned to employ alternatives to the chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning, replace older cookstoves and diesel engines that produce black carbon, and harness fugitive methane seeping out of landfills, wastewater plants, and pipelines.

“Establishing national standards to reduce short-lived climate pollutants is a critical step forward in the fight against climate change. SLCPs are doing some of the worst damage to the atmosphere but are a problem too few people are talking about. Our Super Pollutants Act will take these dangerous pollutants head and drive economic growth here in the United States by making smarter use of the tools already at our disposal. It will help deliver measurable results for our environment and promote meaningful action on climate change around the world. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan proposal with Senator Collins,” said Senator Murphy.

“Short-lived climate pollutants can warm the climate at a rate thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide. Our bipartisan legislation addresses this significant problem quickly and effectively,” said Senator Collins. “Enabling federal agencies to work with the business and nonprofit communities will speed up the adoption of super pollutant-reducing technologies and policies, all while supporting American-led innovation. Taking these steps can save money, drive economic growth, and prevent death and disease around the world while helping to jump-start meaningful action on climate change.”

Radha Muthiah, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, said, “I am pleased to see Senators Collins and Murphy take these important steps to promote mitigation options such as clean cookstoves and fuels which can swiftly and cost-effectively reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants.  The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is working closely with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and US agencies to promote innovative market-based solutions to promote low-emission cooking technologies and fuels in developing countries.”

David Doniger, Director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at Natural Resources Defense Council said, "Senators Murphy and Collins deserve credit for proposing new legislation to curb HFCs, methane, and other powerful, but short-lived, pollutants that are driving dangerous climate change.  These pollutants add to the already substantial impact of carbon dioxide pollution.   If we hope to avoid truly catastrophic climate change, we have to start reducing these super climate pollutants now."

“There are immediate actions the United States can take to meet its obligations under the Montreal Protocol to reduce ozone depletion and greenhouse gas emissions,” said John Mandyck, United Technologies Building & Industrial Systems chief sustainability officer. “By closing a loophole that permits the use of ozone-depleting residential air conditioning units, Senator Murphy’s legislation promotes both ozone protection and improved energy efficiency of newer systems. The legislation also recognizes the appropriate role of the Montreal Protocol in advancing ozone protection, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, calibrated to the pace of technology developments and the availability of proven, energy-efficient alternatives.”

Mr. Thierry Vanlancker, President of the Fluoroproducts Business at The Chemours Company (formerly DuPont Performance Chemicals), said, “Chemours commends the bipartisan leadership of Senators Murphy and Collins in seeking common sense, cost effective reductions in the use and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with high global warming potential (GWP) especially in that the legislation enhances energy efficiency and safety in use of alternatives.   The HFC policies included in the Super Pollutants Act of 2015 reflect the sensible approach that has the widespread support of both the business and NGO communities.”

The Super Pollutants Act of 2015 would:

  • Foster interagency cooperation on super pollutants;
  • Prioritize commonsense emissions reduction strategies, and employ existing federal authorities and diplomatic programs;
  • Complete the already scheduled phase-out of certain high-GWP and ozone depleting air conditioners while promoting refrigerant recycling;
  • Mitigate methane leaks;
  • Expand access to diesel-scrubbing technologies.