2016’s Biggest Climate Win Achieved: India Focus

Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
Credit: Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth, http://www.iisd.ca/ozone/resumed-oewg38-mop28/12oct.html

The world took a huge step on climate action in finalizing a historic amendment to phase down super-potent greenhouse gases in Kigali, Rwanda. After a marathon negotiations stretching over ten days, and years in the making, countries around the world agreed on an ambitious and flexible amendment to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). India was vital to the discussion and worked to find a way to reach an agreement with the world.

The emissions avoided by the Kigali amendment are huge—up to half a degree towards the 1.5˚Celsius pathway outlined in the Paris Agreement. The Kigali amendment shows that nations can work together to curb climate change, and that people across the globe can have affordable, climate-friendly air conditioning. Achieving this amendment required leadership and flexibility from both developed and developing economies. It will help protect communities and families already suffering from worsening drought, stronger storms and extreme heat.  

HFCs—used mostly in air conditioning and refrigeration, for making insulating foams, and in some aerosol and other products – have hundreds to thousands of  times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Though accounting for only 1-2 percent of total warming now, HFCs are the fastest growing climate pollutants because of the skyrocketing demand for air conditioning and refrigeration in developing markets—such as India.

5 Key Features of the Kigali Amendment

The Kigali amendment embodies equity with developed countries taking action first, and then followed by developing countries.

  • Developed countries agreed to make their first HFCs cuts by 2019; the United States, the European Union, Japan and others have already started reducing their use.
  • China, Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, and the majority of developing countries committed to freeze their HFC production and use by 2024, and reduce in subsequent steps. 
  • India, Gulf Countries, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan agreed to make HFC reductions on a slower track, starting with a freeze in 2028, with the option to go faster.
  • Developed nations committed to provide additional funds through the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund.
  • The Montreal Protocol for the first time included real provisions for bringing climate-friendly and energy-efficient alternatives to market through prompt financing, supported by key developed countries and private philanthropies.

My colleague David Doniger provides more analysis on the Kigali Amendment here

India Focus

To reach an amendment, India moved up its proposed freeze year by 3 years from 2031 to 2028. It also moved up its proposed baseline by 4 years from 2028-2030 to 2024-2026. The Kigali amendment puts into action concrete HFC reductions that will reduce warming. 

The hallmark of the Montreal Protocol is a “start and strengthen” approach. Parties will review and accelerate the Kigali phase-down in future decisions, pulling the market forward much faster than agreed today.  

India’s market is already moving ahead with phasing down HFCs. Market leaders such as Godrej & Boyce, Daikin and a number of other manufacturers are beginning to sell energy efficient and climate friendly air conditioners. Indian air conditioner manufacturers are indicating readiness to leapfrog over outdated technologies by adopting less potent alternatives. Chemical companies are moving ahead too, and leading manufacturers are set to begin domestic production of alternative refrigerants in India for both domestic use and exports as early as 2017.

The new global agreement reached in Kigali sends a clear signal to governments, markets, and key actors to accelerate the shift to climate friendly and energy efficient cooling. The agreement launches robust financing, technology sharing and programs for cooling technology that creates jobs and drives economic growth that result in greater emissions reductions. The international agreement is critical to protecting our health, our communities and our planet from the ravages of climate change.