Phasing out greenhouse gases will send signal to world markets: Kerry

Kigali (Rwanda), Oct 14 (IANS) The adoption of an ambitious hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) phase down amendment could avoid up to half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of this century and such actions would send a powerful signal to the world markets, US Secretary of State John Kerry said here on Friday.

“The US is participating in these talks in Kigali on the Montreal Protocol in order to work toward agreement and adoption of an ambitious HFCs phase down amendment in the next few hours,” Kerry said in his 30-minute address at the 28th Montreal Protocol meeting.

Making a passionate appeal, he said the HFC amendment would build upon “our success last year in Paris (Agreement) and is one of the most consequential and cost-effective actions the global community can take this year to combat climate change”.

HFCs are used mostly in refrigeration and air-conditioning and are also potent greenhouse gases.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is widely recognized as the most successful global environmental agreement.

Kerry, who reached Kigali a day earlier, said the success at this Montreal Protocol meeting would rely on continued leadership from all of those who helped make Paris a reality.

“Last week, we officially crossed the threshold for the Paris Agreement to enter into force. Enough countries representing enough of the world’s emissions have now formally joined the agreement so it’ll actually enter into force November 4th, less than a year after it was gaveled in.”

The achievement, he said, really underscores the widespread recognition of the urgency of the problem and is a testament to the continued determination of nations — all nations, large, small, rich, poor — to tackle climate change.

Indeed, governments around the world have signaled a huge and growing resolve to act, he said.

“The actions send a very powerful signal to world markets. We’re moving toward a low-emissions economy, both in the US and around the world,” he said.

The negotiations in Kigali have been on since October 10 to reach a global agreement on an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs globally.

Heat-trapping substance HFCs — the refrigeration and air-conditioning coolants — though not harming the ozone layer, have a high global-warming potential.

Official sources said Kerry had one-to-one negotiations twice with Indian Environment Minister Anil Dave and once with Chinese Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection Zhai Qing on the sidelines of the main talks.

After meeting the ministers, Kerry told reporters that “we’re making progress”.

Earlier, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Erik Solheim said the world is close to striking a deal to phase out HFCs.

“I am confident that we are very close to make amendments to the Montreal Protocol for a timely phase out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and replacing them with climate-friendly alternatives,” Solheim told reporters.

In a landmark decision in November last, the 197 Parties of the Montreal Protocol agreed to the “Dubai Pathway on HFCs” which commits the 197 Parties to “work within the Montreal Protocol to an HFC amendment in 2016 by first resolving challenges by generating solutions in the contact group on the feasibility and ways of managing HFCs”.

(Vishal Gulati is in Kigali in Rwanda to cover the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. He can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

–IANS

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