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Kigali makes history with HFC freeze (Relevant for GS Prelims, Mains Paper II)

Agreement to cut emissions of greenhouse gases
Countries came to an agreement in Kigali 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.

About HFC’s
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a family of greenhouse gases that are largely used in refrigerants in home and car air-conditioners. HFCs are replacement of Chloro-Flouro Carbons (CFCs) which were banned on account of harmful impact on Ozone layer.

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).

About 200 countries to reduce the use of HFC’s
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.

Significance of agreement
The agreement is significant in that it amends the 1987 Montreal Protocol, initially conceived only to plug gases that were destroying the ozone layer, to now include gases responsible for global warming.This has been the surface of agreements such as the recently ratified Paris agreement that pushes countries to cap global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” by 2100.

Details of the agreement
As per the agreement in Kigali, all countries are in one of three groups with different timelines to go about these reductions.

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.

Agreement seems to be the efficient mechanism over the other climate change treaties 
Unlike the more glamorous Paris agreement that will come into force by 2020 and doesn’t legally bind countries to their promises to cut emissions, the 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.

The exact amount of additional funding will be agreed at the next Meeting of the Parties in Montreal, in 2017. Grants for research and development of affordable alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons will be the most immediate priority.

The details of this will be worked out in subsequent meetings of the countries committed to the Montreal Protocol agreement.

India’s view point on Kigali 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,” said Lekha Sridhar, a policy analyst with the Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

 



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