India at Kigali: ‘Don’t use financial incentives to misguide developing nations on HFC phase-out deal’

Countries are meeting in Kigali to decide on an amendment to the 1989 ozone-saving Montreal Protocol to bring HFC-elimination within its ambit.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Kigali | Published:October 12, 2016 4:29 am

India Tuesday asked developed countries not to use financial incentives “as a ploy to misguide” developing nations in order to make them agree to an early phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a set of air-conditioning and refrigerant gases that contribute to global warming.

Countries are meeting in Kigali to decide on an amendment to the 1989 ozone-saving Montreal Protocol to bring HFC-elimination within its ambit. Some HFCs are thousands of times more dangerous than carbon dioxide in their ability to heat up the planet.

Developed countries, led by the United States, have proposed “financial incentives” to developing nations that commit to an early baseline-year for measuring their future HFC reductions. Early baseline year would impose deeper HFC cuts from developing countries because they would have to show progress from a lower baseline amount.

“We have heard about these financial incentives. We do not know what these are. We would like to know about them. These financial incentives, whatever they are, cannot come up after the (current) discussions are closed. In any case, these should not be used as a ploy to misguide (countries) by telling them that if you come early you will get this, and then create some kind of differentiation within the developing countries,” Manoj Kumar Singh, India’s lead negotiator and joint secretary in the Environment Ministry, said.

Singh asserted that India would not agree to an early baseline year regardless of the details of the financial incentive. “But for the sake of transparency, and for everyone’s benefit, we should know what these are. These should be placed right now before everyone if these are to be used as tools for negotiations here,” he said.

Deciding on the baseline years, which would be different for developed and developing countries, is one of the main points to be resolved in the negotiations. For the developed countries, the base-year under discussion is the period 2011 to 2013. The average annual production or consumption of HFCs in this period would form the baseline against which these countries would have to take phase-out targets. According to one of the phase-out schedules under discussion, the developed countries must cut down 10 per cent of their HFCs compared to the baseline year by the year 2018.

The developing countries can have a later baseline year. A formal proposal put forward by India has suggested the period 2028-2030 as the baseline for developing countries. India has now agreed to bring it ahead to the 2024-2026 period, but not further than that as many other countries want it to.

“The differentiation principle in the Montreal Protocol has always had about 10-17 years of grace period for developing countries (to start the phase-out of ozone depleting substances). We want this grace period in this case also, so that we can build our baseline. We have never (earlier) tried to phase out a (ozone depleting) chemical simultaneously by the developed and developing countries. This is for the first time we are trying to do that in case of the HFCs,” said Singh.

The Kigali meeting will go on till Friday, at the end of which countries hope to finalise an amendment that will enable Montreal Protocol to mandate the phase out of HFCs which are not ozone depleting but have huge global warming potential.