Treasurer Torsella Calls For Reduction Of Super Pollutants To Combat Climate Change

Shareholder proposals to Kroger and Walmart call for reduction in dangerous hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella today announced his call for scrutiny and action to reduce super pollutants in the fight against climate change. As a shareholder, representing Commonwealth investments, Torsella has also submitted shareholder proposals to Kroger – jointly with Friends Fiduciary Corporation, and to Walmart — jointly with Rhode Island Treasury, to address the companies’ use and of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants and mitigation of HFC emissions.

“State, federal and corporate leaders have a grave responsibility to ensure a safe environment for today and for every tomorrow. It is nothing less than egregious to sit idly by and ignore factual science that provides clear evidence of super pollutants’ ability to exacerbate the negative impact of climate change. As treasurer and steward of taxpayer dollars, it is my duty to fight for the best long-term outcomes of our investments, and in this case, it means demanding action to preserve a vital future for our planet.”

Pennsylvania State Treasurer, Joe Torsella

In similar proposals submitted to the boards of Kroger and Walmart, Treasury and co-signers Friends of Fiduciary Corporation and Rhode Island Treasury respectively, request Kroger and Walmart compile reports disclosing detailed ways they plan to reduce and mitigate HFC emissions in their operations. Suggestions of details to be presented in such reports include implementing quantitative targets to reduce refrigerant emissions, installation of ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants in new refrigerant systems, defining strategies to substantially lower the companies’ HFC footprint when addressing remodeling, and repairs to existing equipment.

“The ongoing effects of global climate change, including the financial impacts, are significant. In order to be sustainable over the long-term, companies – especially those as big as Walmart – must acknowledge and limit their carbon impact. We are calling on Walmart to immediately share with investors plans to reduce the amount of the super-pollutant hydrofluorocarbon used by the company, and to lay out plans to transition to cost- and energy-efficient alternatives.”

Rhode Island General Treasurer, Seth Magaziner

“As a Philadelphia-based investment manager representing Quaker faith communities and institutions across Pennsylvania, we know environmental stewardship is imperative for a just and prosperous future for all. Companies which proactively and comprehensively manage super pollutants are not only mitigating business risks and competitively position themselves for the low-carbon future, but are also doing their part for the planet.”

Jeffery Perkins, Executive Director, Friends of Fiduciary Corporation

Super pollutants are extremely potent noncarbon-dioxide contaminants that accelerate climate change. HFCs have 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. HFC leakage during operation of current equipment and improper disposal of retired HFCs account for the majority of emission into the atmosphere. Research suggests one of the most important steps to reduce climate change is management and proper disposal of refrigerants already in use. It is estimated that in the U.S. alone, emissions from retired HFC refrigerants account for 75-80 million metric tons of pollution annually, the equivalent of the emissions from 16 million cars.

While HFCs are the only completely man-made super pollutant, other super pollutants include methane, nitrous oxide, and black carbon. While reductions in carbon may not be felt for centuries, mitigation of super pollutants provides immediate relief.

Treasurer Torsella also recommended the below as the highest priority ways to combat super pollutants:

  • Support by state policy-makers and major users of HFCs to accelerate the adoption of ultra-low GWP refrigerants, as suggested by a Pennsylvania DEP proposal of regulations under 25 PA. Code Chs. 121, 129, and 130.
  • Fully implement the recent American Manufacturing and Innovation (AIM) Act. This federal policy is designed to enact a phasedown of HFC usage at the national level.
  • Ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Accords. Full implementation of the Kigali Amendment could avert global warming by .44 degree Celsius before the end of the century. The Amendment has yet to be sent to the U.S. Senate for ratification, despite bipartisan and industry support.
  • Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Committing to RGGI could lead to a 31 percent reduction in carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions by 2030.
  • Restore EPA methane regulations rolled back by the Trump Administration to again increase leak prevention requirements.
  • Plug 2.6 million documented leaking oil and gas wells nationwide. Emissions from these unplugged wells is comparable to the emissions of 2.1 million cars annually.
  • Incentivize farmers to adopt best climate-friendly agriculture practices.
  • Reduce black carbon through use of better filters, low-sulfur fuel, and increased fuel efficiency to reduce black carbon diesel emissions by 99 percent.

For more details about the impact of super pollutants on climate change and ways state, federal and corporate leaders can reduce these negative effects, read the latest edition of Treasury Notes here. For all Treasury news follow the department on Facebook and Twitter.

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