With India ratifying a global treaty that eventually aims to phase out a heat-trapping substance — hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs — and replace them with climate-friendly alternatives, experts on Thursday said this will encourage the air-conditioning and refrigeration industry to develop more efficient cooling technologies faster.
Following seven years of negotiations, the 197 Montreal Protocol parties reached a treaty in October 2016 in Kigali in Rwanda, under which developed countries will start phasing out HFCs by 2019, while the developing countries, including India, will phase them out at a baseline of 2024-2026 and a freeze date of 2028.
The baseline year determines the level at which the HFC consumption in countries is capped.
According to TERI and the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), the main advantage to India in ratifying the Kigali Amendment will be to help boost domestic manufacturing and employment generation goals.
The ratification would signify that India is ready to compete in the market for low-global warming potential (climate-friendly) refrigerants, which will spur domestic innovation and attract international investments.
They say this will help India in achieving climate change and cooling commitments. India is one of the few countries on track to meet its climate commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Ratifying Kigali would further accelerate this progress.
Also by ratifying the Kigali Amendment India would strengthen influence and goodwill around the globe and help bolster its efforts to establish smart policies and bylaws, including energy efficiency while phasing down HFCs.
Responding to India’s decision on Wednesday to phase out HFCs to prevent depletion of the ozone layer, Prima Madan, Lead Consultant (Energy Efficiency and Cooling), NRDC India Program, told IANS: “India has exemplified its climate leadership by ratifying the Kigali Amendment.”
“There is a big opportunity for the country to be on course for an early phase down of HFCs, through domestic innovation, which would also make Indian industry globally competitive in climate-friendly cooling products. India’s move fits in well with its plan for a green recovery, as we build back better.”
Added Alex Hillbrand, HFC Advocate, Climate and Clean Energy and International Program with the NRDC: “The Montreal Protocol community has long looked to India for its leadership on ozone and climate protection and today it has, yet again, answered the call.
“India’s Kigali Amendment ratification is among the most significant of any country, and brings us to the cusp of universal ratification among the world’s biggest economies.”
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while giving the nod, also announced developing a national strategy for phasing out HFCs by 2023 after consultation with industries.
Chandra Bhushan, CEO of iFOREST, who was conferred with the Ozone Award by the UN-Environment, told IANS the ratification also signals India’s intention to ramp up greenhouse gas emission reduction.
“The global warming potential of HFCs is a thousand times more than carbon dioxide. The ratification means India will have an HFC consumption and production freeze in 2028, a 10 per cent reduction in 2032, and an 85 per cent reduction by 2047. In doing so, India alone will reduce two to six billion tons of carbon equivalent emissions through 2050. This is equal to two years of India’s current annual emissions.”
Globally, the HFC phase-down is expected to prevent the emission of up to 105 million tonne CO2e of greenhouse gases, helping to avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100 while continuing to protect the ozone layer.
“The Kigali Amendment is a legally binding treaty, which creates clear obligations for government authorities and private actors to take time-bound action,” said Bhushan.
The ratification is also viewed by the government to lead to “co-benefits” of achieving energy efficiency gains, maximizing economic and social benefits.
It is also expected to boost domestic markets and innovation for new generation alternative refrigerants and related technologies. The ratification also means India will have access to global financial and technical cooperation, including technology transfer, crucial for an energy transition.
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at email@example.com)