UNEP Executive Director goes Gandhian to phase out super greenhouse gases

Kigali (Rwanda), Oct 13 (IANS) United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Erik Solheim on Thursday went the Gandhian way, asking the global community to take a pledge to phase out the heat-trapping organic compounds — hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — and emulate the lifestyle of the Mahatma.

Making a passionate appeal to emulate Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy in the global fight against climate change, he favoured negotiating an agreement to eliminate planet-warming HFCs in the next 30-40 years.

In his opening ministerial remarks, Solheim, who took over as Executive Director of the UNEP in May last, said the world needed to draw inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, “the greatest Indian of modern times”, in its fight against the climate change.

In his extempore speech lasting nearly 25 minutes, he also talked about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi many a time.

“Recently, I was in India when Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change. Modi has sent a message to all of us. He had said India will ratify the Paris Agreement on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Maybe we all need to emulate the lifestyle of this greatest Indian (Mahatma Gandhi) of modern times,” he said.

“We all need to allow ourselves to be inspired by Gandhi. We need to remind ourselves of what he achieved. He stood up against the greatest power of that time, through non-violence and determination and achieved his goal (of getting India freed from the British India),” he said.

“We are facing similar challenges (on climate change). If we draw inspiration from him, we can also be victorious as he was.”

“Let’s take that as the motto for this conference. Let’s all become the change that we would like to see. Can we do that? Another slogan from a different country says, ‘Yes, we can. For sure, we can’,” Solheim added.

At present, the 28th meeting of the Parties to the 1989 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is underway in the Rwandan capital till October 14 to freeze an agreement as early as possible to eventually eliminate the use of HFCs.

One group of countries, including China, seems to favour average HFC consumption during 2020-22 as the baseline.

Another group, that includes India, seems to opt for average HFC consumption during 2024-26 as the baseline, said an official.

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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