Agreement to Cut Emissions of Greenhouse Gases
- 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.
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a family of greenhouse gases that are largely used in refrigerants in home and car air conditioners.
- The HFCs are replacement of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which were banned due to their harmful impact on the ozone layer.
- They are currently the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases (CGHs), with emissions increasing by 10% each year.
- They are one of the most powerful GHGs, trapping thousand times more heat in Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2).
About 200 Countries to Reduce the Use of HFCs
- In all, 197 parties including India, China and the United States agreed to a timeline to reduce the use of HFCs by roughly 85% of their baselines by 2045.
Significance of the Agreement
- The Agreement is significant in that it amends the 1987 Montreal Protocol, initially conceived only to plug the gases that were destroying the ozone layer, but now includes gases responsible for global warming.
- This has been the surface of agreements such as the recently ratified Paris Agreement that pushes the countries to cap global warming to well below two degree celsius by 2100.
Details of the Agreement
- As per the agreement in Kigali, all countries are categorised into three groups on the basis of different timelines for reduction commitments.
- The richest countries, including the United States and those in the European Union, will freeze the production and consumption of HFCs by 2018, reducing them to about 15% of 2012 levels by 2036.
- China, Brazil and Africa, will freeze the use of HFCs by 2024, cutting it to 20% of 2021 levels by 2045.
- India is a part of the group that will be freezing the use of HFC by 2028 and reducing it to about 15% 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 the countries to cut emissions, the amended Montreal Protocol will bind the countries to their HFC reduction schedules from 2019.
- There are also penalties for non-compliance as well as clear directives that developed countries provide for enhanced funding support which is estimated to be 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 HFCs 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.