The government agreed to discuss the phasing out of refrigerant coolants under the Montreal Protocol, marking a change in its stand from earlier this month when the environment minister had refused to discuss the issue under the same norms.
The coolants, called hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), are said to be a major cause of global warming and are over 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The United States has been pressing India to discuss their phasing out under the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty to phase out substances that deplete earth’s ozone layer.
In return, the US agreed that accounting of the phasing out of the coolants can be done under the United Nations convention on climate change that provides for reducing global warming-causing gases.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar said India would discuss the issue only under the UN convention and not under the Montreal Protocol before he left to participate at the UN summit on climate change in New York last month.
The change in stand came as the US offered India a comprehensive deal on clean technologies for phasing out the refrigerant coolants.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the US, met President Barack Obama and signed an agreement where the US would provide $1 billion to finance renewable energy and new research and development institutes for developing clean energies in India after the government changed its stand on the coolants.
The two leaders also agreed to start a smart energy programme for urban areas.
Two American companies — DuPont and Honeywell — have patented the replacement for the coolant used in the refrigerating industry, which grew by over 15% in 2013. Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment welcomed the decision but added that compensation for phasing out should be adequate.
The Indian decision on HFCs came a year after China agreed to discuss the phasing out under the Montreal Protocol and also got US funding after the agreement.