Kigali (Rwanda), Oct 15 (IANS) Nearly 200 nations came together to take a historic step in combating climate change, US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said on Saturday. Likewise, the amendment was hailed by Canada, the European Union and Micronesia.
After adoption of the historic Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol that aims the global phase down of heat-trapping organic compounds — hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), McCarthy said: “After years of hard work and difficult negotiations, a global commitment to protecting our planet brought us to this moment.
“Amending the Montreal Protocol will significantly phase down HFCs and avoid up to a half-degree centigrade of warming by the end of the century.”
HFCs are super greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air-conditioning world over.
After night-long hectic negotiations on the fourth and the last day that lasted till Saturday morning, the 28th meeting of the Parties to the 1989 Montreal Protocol in the Rwandan capital adopted the amendment to eventually eliminate the use of HFCs.
“The amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase out HFCs is the largest temperature reduction ever achieved by a single agreement. We came to take a half a degree Celsius out of future warming, and we won about 90 percent of our climate prize,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy with the European Union Miguel Arias Canete said the amendment was a huge win for the climate.
“This is a huge win for the climate. The global phase down we have agreed could knock off up to half a degree of warming by the end of the century. I am proud of the role the high ambition coalition played in brokering this deal,” Canete said.
Director of the office of Environment and Emergency Management of the Federated States of Micronesia Andrew Yatilman said: “We came; we labored for years; we conquered.”
Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna said: “In Canada and around the world, the changing climate – affected by carbon pollution and short-lived climate pollutants like HFCs — threatens the planet and the very existence of small island states like the Marshall Islands. This latest achievement is one of the most significant wins for the climate.”
Describing the amendment to the Montreal Protocol a significant contribution to the ambition of Paris, Britain-based Christian Aid Senior Policy Advisor Benson Ireri said: “This was the first real test faced by nations since they committed to limiting global warming in the Paris Agreement. Despite some long negotiations, they have shown the global transition to a sustainable planet remains on course.”
The Climate Action Network said, “The outcome reached in Kigali is a critical step towards limiting warming and the single biggest climate action of the year, just weeks before leaders meet in Morocco for international climate talks.”
David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Air programme director said the Montreal Protocol amendment has sent a clear signal to the global marketplace to start replacing these dangerous chemicals with a new generation of climate-friendly and energy-efficient alternatives.
Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, told IANS: “What we have achieved at Kigali is the beginning. We can build on this success and further enhance climate actions by countries under the Montreal Protocol and in other climate agreements, especially the Paris Agreement.”
As per the agreement, the A2 (developed) countries have agreed to a baseline of 2011-2013 with cuts in HFCs beginning in 2019.
Whereas A5 (developing) countries have agreed to two sub-groups with two different baselines. A5 Group 2 that includes India, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq – with a baseline of 2024-2026 and a freeze date of 2028.
The remaining developing countries have favoured an early phase down with a baseline of 2020-2022 and a freeze date of 2024.
(Vishal Gulati is in Kigali in Rwanda to cover the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)