India has come up with a surprise proposal to increase the ambition of developed and developing countries to tackle the menace of Hydroflurocarbons, amid intense efforts by negotiators from nealy 200 countries here to strike a deal to phase-down the harmful refrigerant gas. At the Open Ended Working Group meeting at the Kigali Convention Centre yesterday, India agreed to consider an early baseline year for bringing down HFC consumption, provided developed countries agree to an early “freeze year” and drastically reduce the consumption of the climate-damaging greenhouse gas.
However, the proposal has not yet received favourable response from the developed countries.
The baseline is the maximum quantity of Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) that a country can consume in a year. Freeze year is the year in which the baseline consumption has to be reached. After that, countries have to start reducing HFC consumption from baseline.
Manoj Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and lead Indian negotiator, said India has proposed developed countries to freeze their HFC consumption by 2016 and reduce it to 70 per cent by 2026 or 2027.
“We have requested a steeper reduction from the developed countries but there is no change in their position,” he said about the developments unfolding ahead of the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, taking place in Rwanda between October 10-14.
Sources known to the development said India has proposed an early baseline year for developing countries if developed countries agree to reduce their HFC consumption faster.
India has also asked for more finance and better access to technology to increase its ambition.
In the past, India had proposed baseline for developing countries as average consumption of HFCs in year 2028, 2029 and 2030 and Freeze year of 2031.
However, in the informal meetings held on the sidelines of OEWG, India has agreed to consider preponing the baseline to 2025 and 2026 and cut HFC consumption by 10 per cent by 2032, if developed countries agree to freeze their HFC consumption by 2016 and reduce HFC consumption by 70 per cent by 2026 or 2027.
Currently, developed countries are planning to reduce their HFC consumption by 70 per cent by 2030.
“We want a strong amendment proposal so that HFCs are reduced faster in both developed and developing countries. This shows our concern for climate,” said Singh.
India put forward the new proposal after the developed countries, particularly the US, allegedly tried to isolate India on the HFC phase-down issue.
Making its intervention during the OEWG meet, India hinted that China has agreed for an early reduction of HFCs but also wants others to join it.
“I am quite appreciative of the fact that one of the largest consumer, producer and exporter of HFCs in the developing countries has taken initiative and has voluntarily decided to take early baseline and freeze year. But we said no to their proposal,” Singh said.
It is learnt from reliable sources that India is in favour of having two different HFC phase-down schedule for developing countries; one for China and whoever else wants to join China, and the other for the remaining developing countries.
China is currently the world’s largest producer of HFCs and consumes 20 times more than India.
Indian climate experts attending the meeting hailed the move adopted by the Indian negotiators.
“The idea of developed countries taking steeper reduction target and China taking more responsibility of HFC reduction than other developing countries is a very sound principle.
“It also reflects the current realities of the world where developed countries and some developing countries like China are big polluters and they also have resources to clean up. They, therefore, should move fast,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director-General of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Earlier, speaking at the OEWG meeting, Singh criticided developed nations’ move to isolate and pressurise developing nations on the HFC phase-down issue.
“We are here to negotiate with an open mind and we should not treat the uniqueness of concerns of various countries as voices of descent. We should not isolate countries and pressurise them to agree to something that is not palatable to them,” he said during his intervention.
Singh said it was important to take everyone’s concern on board. “We are here with open mind and are willing to be more ambitious if developed countries are also more ambitious and supports us with finance and technology transfer,” he said.
The objective of the Kigali meet is to adopt an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the potent greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the meeting may result in a legally-binding mechanism to ban the HFCs, commonly used in refrigerators and air-conditioners.
The meeting is happening an year after world leaders reached an agreement in Paris to reduce greenhouse gases emissions to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius above those in pre-industrial times.