Countries came to an agreement in Kigali, Rwanda to phase out a family of potent greenhouse gases by the late 2040s and move to prevent a potential 0.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature by the end of the century. In all, 197 countries, including India, China and the United States, agreed to a timeline to reduce the use of HFCs by roughly 85 per cent of their baselines by 2045.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a family of greenhouse gases that are largely used in refrigerants in home and car air-conditioners. They are currently the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases, with emissions increasing by up to 10 per cent each year. They are one of the most powerful, trapping thousands of times more heat in the Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2).
Significance of Kigali Agreement
• It amends the 1987 Montreal Protocol.
• Montreal Protocol initially conceived only to plug gases that were destroying the ozone layer, but now the latest agreement includes gases responsible for global warming.
• This agreement along with the recently ratified Paris agreement pushes countries to cap global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” by 2100.
• The richest countries, including the U.S. and those in the European Union, will freeze the production and consumption of HFCs by 2018, reducing them to about 15 per cent of 2012 levels by 2036.
• China, Brazil and all of Africa, will freeze HFC use by 2024, cutting it to 20 percent of 2021 levels by 2045.
• India is part of a group that will only be freezing HFC use by 2028 and reducing it to about 15 per cent of 2025 levels by 2047.
• Paris agreement that will come into force by 2020 doesn’t legally bind countries to their promises to cut emissions but the currently amended Montreal Protocol will bind countries to their HFC reduction schedules from 2019.
• There are also penalties for non-compliance as well as clear directives that developed countries provide enhanced funding support estimated at billions of dollars globally.
• Grants for research and development of affordable alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons will be the most immediate priority.
With the recent agreement, India gets to participate in a positive global climate action, while gaining time to allow its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning sectors to grow and refrigerant manufacturers to find a comfortable route to transition and cost of alternatives to fall. Analysts also concluded that Kigali agreement is fair to the realities of India’s future economic development.