CSE welcomes HFC phase-down amendment arrived at world climate talks in Rwanda

October 17, 2016

Says agreement sets strong framework to deal with global environmental issues based on principle of common but differentiated responsibilities

  • Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) are potent greenhouse gases with global warming potential thousand times more than carbon dioxide (CO2)

  • Kigali (Rwanda) has been hosting the 28th Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol, where nations of the world have been negotiating to reduce the use of HFCs

  • Agreement expected to reduce global HFC use by 85 per cent by 2045

  • Agreement follows the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. Developed countries will reduce HFC use first, followed by China and then India.

  • India will start reducing its HFC consumption when developed nations would have reduced theirs by 70 per cent

  • Unlike Paris Agreement on climate change, Montreal Protocol amendment is legally binding

Kigali (Rwanda), October 15, 2016: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has welcomed the agreement reached here late yesterday to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by amending the Montreal Protocol. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases with global warming potential (GWP) thousand times more than carbon dioxide (CO2).

197 countries agreed in Kigali to phase down the use of this greenhouse gas. Under the agreement, developed countries will reduce HFC use first, followed by China along with a large number of countries; India and nine other countries of South and West Asia will follow suit. Overall, the agreement is expected to reduce HFC use by 85 per cent by 2045.

“We welcome this agreement as it reflects the principal 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.

Under the amendment, 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 per cent by 2036 over a 2011-13 baseline. China, which is the largest producer of HFCs in the world, will reduce HFC use by 80 per cent by 2045 over the 2020-22 baseline. India will reduce the use of HFCs by 85 per cent over the 2024-26 baseline. Developed countries have also agreed to provide enhanced funding support to developing countries. Unlike the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Montreal Protocol amendment is legally binding.

Just before the Kigali meeting, India had proposed to take a baseline of 2028-2030 and freeze the use of HFCs by 2031. However, it had not given any definite timeline for reducing use. At Kigali, India showed flexibility and leadership by proposing a four-year advancement of the baseline to 2024-2026 and 10 per cent reduction by 2032. It also linked increase in its ambition with those of the developed countries. It demanded that developed countries reduce 70 per cent of their HFC consumption by 2027. Ultimately, developed nations have agreed to cut 70 per cent of their HFC use by 2029. With this, India will start reducing its HFC consumption when the developed countries would have reduced their consumption by 70 per cent.

India also announced domestic action on HFC-23 (trifluoro-methane), a super greenhouse gas with a GWP of 14,800, which 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. Ironically, United States and China have agreed to take similar action only by 2019.

Praising the Indian negotiating team, Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE said that “India went with a clear strategy and a proactive agenda to enhance the overall environmental ambition of the deal and to protect the nation’s economic interests. The amendment finally agreed to not only protects India’s economic interests, but also doubles the climate benefit compared to the previous Indian proposal. It will avoid HFC emissions equivalent to 70 billion tonne of CO2.”

The agreement in Kigali is the beginning of a long process to replace HFCs with energy-efficient and environmentally sound alternatives. The world is seeing the emergence of new patented fluorinated chemicals which can lead to environmental pollution. “We must take this opportunity to leapfrog the chemical treadmill and move out of fluorinated refrigerants to energy-efficient natural refrigerants. India has the potential to become a major manufacturing hub for natural refrigerant-based equipments,” said Chandra Bhushan.

He added: “What we have achieved in Kigali is the beginning. We can build on this success and further enhance the climate actions by countries in Montreal Protocol and in other climate agreements, especially the Paris Agreement, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.”

  • To reach Chandra Bhushan in Kigali (Rwanda), connect with him at chandra@cseindia.org / 96502 82840.

  • To connect with a CSE expert in India, reach out to Souparno Banerjee, souparno@cseindia.org / 99108 64339.