Kigali Agreement to Amend Montreal Protocol
Oct 20, 2016
- Alarmed by the discovery of a huge hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, In 1987, countries signed a treaty known as the Montreal Protocol to eventually end the use of chlorofluorocarbons, which at the time were used in refrigerators and aerosols such as hair spray.
- HFCs were introduced to replace CFCs which were ozone depleting, and scientists realized only later that while they don’t harm the ozone layer, they have a strong effect on global warming.
- HFCs ability to trap the heat radiating off the Earth is hundreds or thousands of times more potent than that of carbon dioxide.
- HFCs, which are used in air conditioners, refrigerators and insulating foams, have become the latest target as the world tries to reduce global warming. They have been called the world’s fastest-growing climate pollutants, though less plentiful than carbon dioxide, as more people in developing countries buy appliances.
What are HFC
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a family of greenhouse gases that are largely used in refrigerants in home and car air-conditioners. 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).
The U.N. Environment Program has said that reducing HFCs under an extension of the Montreal Protocol could reduce global warming by a half-degree Celsius by the end of this century. Environmental groups came into the global meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, saying the step was essential to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was reached last year.
What is this agreement all about:
It is an amendment to the 1989 Montreal Protocol to eliminate planet-warming HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) gases.
What was agreed at Kigali:
- The amendment will allow the use of ozone-saving Montreal Protocol to phase-out HFCs, a set of 19 gases in the hydroflurocarbon family that are used extensively in the air-conditioning and refrigeration industry. HFCs are not ozone-depleting but are thousands of times more dangerous than carbon dioxide in causing global warming
- Developed nations will begin phasing down HFC gases by 2019, and developing countries will follow suit by 2024.
- While developed nations agreed to bring down such emissions to 85% below their 2011-’13 levels by 2036, developing ones will reduce them to 80% of 2020-’22 levels by 2045. A small group of countries, including India and Pakistan, will reduce their HFC emissions by 85% of 2024-’26 by 2047.
- The deal aims at total elimination of these emissions by 2050, preventing a 0.5-degree Celsius rise in world temperatures by the end of the century. It is thus vital in helping the Paris climate target of keeping global temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius this century.
Significance of the Deal:
- The phase-out scheduled under the amendment is estimated to avert 70 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions between 2020 and 2050. This is considered equivalent to shutting down more than 750 coal power plants, each of 500 MW capacity, or taking about 500 million cars off the road from now to 2050
- Complete elimination of HFCs by the year 2050 is estimated to prevent a 0.5-degree celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of this century.
- 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 turf of agreements such as the recently ratified Paris agreement that pushes countries to cap global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” by 2100.
- 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 countries negotiating at Kigali also agreed to provide adequate financing for HFCs reduction—which runs in billions of dollars globally.
- The Agreement upholds the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR & RC). It recognizes the development imperatives of high-growth economies like India, and provides a realistic and viable roadmap for the implementation of a phase-out schedule for high global warming potential (GWP) HFCs.
India and Kigali:
- India joins the nations of the world in lauding the Hydroflurocarbon (HFC) Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, agreed to at the 28th Meeting of Parties at Kigali, Rwanda.
- India and some other developing countries — Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and oil economies like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — will cut down their HFCs by 85 per cent of their values in 2024-26 by the year 2047.
What is Montreal Protocol
- International treaty designed to protect the environment against the impact of harmful substances
- Created in 1987 following the discovery of a large hole in the Earth's ozone layer over Antarctica
- Came into force in 1989 with the main aim of ending the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
- CFCs replaced by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- Amendment proposed after scientists discovered that, while they pose no threat to the ozone layer, HFCs contribute to global warming by trapping heat radiating off the Earth
- The protocol has undergone a number of revisions since it was introduced and has been successful in eliminating more than 100 fluorinated gases