India has succeeded in extracting a longer time frame for phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) gases to allow the transition of its refrigeration industry to cleaner options than the timelines agreed by China and developed countries.
At the 28th meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali in Rwanda, 197 countries agreed on Saturday to slash the use of climate-damaging HFC gases.
The agreement is expected to reduce global HFC use by 85 per cent by 2045 and will avert global CO2 emissions equal to more than India’s entire emissions by 2050.
Used in refrigerants and air conditioners, HFCs, also known as “super pollutant gases”, are potent greenhouse gases with global warming potential thousand times more than that of carbon dioxide.
According to the agreement signed under the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty to regulate use of ozone depleting substances, three different schedules have been set for countries to freeze and then reduce their production and use of HFCs.
The developed countries, led by the US and Europe, will reduce HFC use by 85% by 2036 over a 2011-13 baseline of HFC use. China, which is the largest producer of HFCs in the world, will reduce HFC use by 80% by 2045 over the 2020-22 baseline and India will reduce the use of HFCs by 85% by 2047 over the 2024-26 baseline.
HT had first reported on Monday that India had sought to differentiate China from other developing countries and proposed three different timelines— one each for the developed countries, China and other developing countries— for phasing out HFCs. While it had earlier proposed a baseline of 2028-30, it said it was ready to move it ahead if the developed countries and China took earlier actions.
While China had agreed for an early baseline of 2020-22, it wanted other developing countries to also follow the same baseline. Developed countries, through the protocol’s funding channels, tried to incentivize an early phase out for the developing nations by proposing an energy efficiency fund for early adopters.
Calling it pressure tactic, India objected to this and suggested that it be either extended to the other developing countries that favour a later baseline or be scrapped altogether.
India proposed a revised roadmap on the final day which was supported by various developing countries. The agreement was finally reached after several meetings between the US, India and other countries. Developed countries have also agreed to provide enhanced funding support to developing countries.
India also announced domestic action on HFC-23 (trifluoro-methane), a super greenhouse gas that is produced as a byproduct of HCFC-22 (chloro-difluoro-methane). Currently, HCFC-22 is the most commonly used refrigerant in India. Under this new domestic law, India has mandated its manufacturers to capture and incinerate HFC-23 so that it is not released into the atmosphere. This action will eliminate release of HFC-23 equivalent to about 100 million tonne of CO2 emissions over the next 15 years.
“We welcome this agreement as it reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. It also reflects the emerging reality of a world in which China will have to take more and more responsibility to solve global environmental issues,” said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.
David Doniger, Climate and Clean Air programme director of US-based non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council said the Kigali deal was the biggest step after the Paris agreement against the widening threats from climate change.
“And bringing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol sends a clear signal to the global marketplace to start replacing these dangerous chemicals with a new generation of climate-friendly and energy-efficient alternatives,” he said.