The Trump administration is weighing whether to support an international agreement limiting emissions of refrigerants used in cooling systems from air conditioning to refrigerators, a top White House official said Monday morning.
George David Banks, a White House energy adviser, said the administration “wants to understand in a concrete way” the economic impact of the Kigali Amendment, which addresses hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, before supporting it.
Banks, in comments at a forum hosted by the Hudson Institute, said the administration is considering how the amendment would benefit U.S. companies, preserve and create jobs, and how it would affect the U.S. trade balance.
"If the president does decide to support Kigali, it will be because he wants to create U.S. jobs and advance U.S. commercial interests," said Banks, the White House special assistant on international energy and environment issues. "Before we create a recommendation to the president, we’re going to have really good economic information. We understand there’s broad industry support, but we want to understand in a concrete way, how this benefits U.S. companies, how it preserves and creates U.S. jobs, how it fosters the trade balance and exports to other countries."
HFCs are considered more potent than greenhouse gases such as carbon and methane.
World nations, led by the U.S. under the Obama administration, agreed in October 2016 to the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol, which would phase out HFC emissions. The deal, negotiated in Kigali, Rwanda, recently reached a key threshold because it is now endorsed by 21 countries, which will allow it to go into force in early 2019.
It has broad support from U.S. businesses, including the air conditioning and refrigeration industries.
The State Department last year had suggested the Trump administration supported the international agreement.
Judith Garber, the principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, said in November that the U.S. supports "the goals and approach of the amendment."
But Banks told reporters Monday "there's a difference between that" and supporting the amendment itself.
If President Trump does support the amendment, the White House must submit it to the Senate for approval, requiring support from two-thirds of the chamber.