India signs historic climate pact along with 196 nations

RSTV Bureau

New Delhi: FILE- Smoke billows from a thermal power plant chimney contributing to air pollution. In a move to curb pollution, the Delhi government on Friday proposed a 'odd/even' number formula for cars. The move is planned to be rolled out from January 1, 2016.  Photo - PTI

In a landmark step to combat climate change, India along with 196 other nations signed a pact in Kigali in Rwanda to check the emission of certain hydrofluorocarbons that have extremely harmful global warming effects.

The legally binding deal says that developed countries will reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons 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 hydrofluorocarbons use by 85 per cent by 2045.

Negotiators and policymakers held a round-the-clock meeting to deliberate and iron out differences to amend the Montreal Protocol to reach the Kigali Amendment to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, which have the potential to be a thousand times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

The agreement on the amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is expected to prevent a global temperature rise of up to 0.5 C by the end of the century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.

Under the amendment, three different schedules have been set for countries to freeze and then reduce their production and use of hydrofluorocarbons.

The developed countries, led by the US and Europe, will reduce hydrofluorocarbons use by 85 per cent by 2036 over a 2011-13 baseline.

China, which is the largest producer of hydrofluorocarbons in the world, will reduce its use by 80 per cent by 2045 over the 2020-22 baseline.

India will have to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons by 85 per cent over the 2024-26 baseline.

Developed countries have also agreed to provide enhanced funding support to developing countries.

The amendment will come into force on January 1, 2019, provided at least 20 instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval of the Amendment have been deposited by states or regional economic integration organisations that are parties to the Montreal Protocol on substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

“We cared for our development, industrial interest and at the same time the interest of the country,” said Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, who attended the high-level segment of the conference.

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

Climate experts in India hailed the role played by India in clinching the deal. Experts lauded India efforts for 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 protect 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,” Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said.

(With inputs from PTI)