The Kigali Amendment Places America at a Competitive Disadvantage

September 21, 2022

Mr. President,

China is not a developing nation.

China is the world’s second-largest economy, the world’s largest manufacturer, and the world’s number one creditor. Yet, this body is poised to ratify a treaty that ignores those facts and treats China with kid gloves. Simply put, the Kigali Amendment places America at a competitive disadvantage, using American taxpayer dollars to subsidize Chinese companies.

Mr. President,

The Kigali Amendment restricts supplies of compounds called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are the refrigerants used in most air conditioning and refrigeration systems. The rationale is that HFCs leaking out of equipment and into the atmosphere add to climate change. However, even the EPA admits that HFCs contribute only five one hundredths of one degree C to projected increases in global temperature.

As a developing nation under the Kigali amendment, China is eligible to receive funding from the 4.5-billion-dollar multi-lateral fund, of which the United States is the largest contributor. If this treaty is ratified, the United States will be required under the treaty to meet strict deadlines for phasing out HFCs while China is given an additional ten-year timeline to come into compliance. It’s doubtful, given its track record, that China has any intention of actually meeting its environmental obligations under this treaty.

Treating China as a developing country gives it an unfair advantage in the existing HFC market and allows China to continue production, allowing them to continue to undercut the HFC market well into the 2040s. As the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China has a long history of disregarding environmental standards and has continually increased its emissions and investments in coal-fired power plants since the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Under the treaty, Chinese-based HFC producers will get the largest share of the controlled market in future supplies needed to keep existing cooling systems running. As it has done under past environmental treaties, China will continue to produce supplies that are not allowed under the updated environmental standards.

This is part of a conspicuous trend on China’s part. China wants to get ahead by playing by a different set of rules than the rest of the world. We know China ignores the rules and has little respect for international norms, and yet we continue to allow them to dominate markets with the financial support of American taxpayer dollars.

Later today, the Senate will likely vote on an amendment offered Senator Sullivan and me. It will not fix all of the flaws of the Kigali treaty; it will, however, begin to address the issue of China receiving special treatment. It will require the Secretary of State to propose the removal of China’s designation as a developing nation to the Vienna Convention. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of our Amendment and acknowledge the fact that China is not a developing nation.