The Kigali Amendment sets a timeline for the world to phase down the use of powerful greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons.

By Emily Pontecorvo, Grist

The Senate has historically been the place where climate policy goes to die. Most climate bills garner zero Republican support, and Democrats haven’t had the 60 votes required to pass legislation since 2010. The recent Inflation Reduction Act was a unique exception — the bill’s $369 billion in climate and energy spending was pushed through with 50 Democratic votes under an arcane process called “budget reconciliation.”

protestor with sign reading Act Now at climate rally

But on Wednesday, the Senate flipped the script and voted to approve an international agreement designed to drive down greenhouse gas emissions. Sixty-nine Senators, including 19 Republicans, voted in favor of ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which sets a timeline for the world to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. (The Senate must approve international treaties by a two-thirds vote before the President can ratify them.)

“Ratifying the Kigali Amendment, along with passing the Inflation Reduction Act, is the strongest one-two punch against climate change any Congress has ever taken,” said Senator Chuck Schumer after the vote.

HFCs are chemicals used in heating and cooling equipment like refrigerators, air conditioners, and heat pumps. They were adopted in the 1990s as a substitute for another chemical, chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which were found to be destroying the ozone layer.