India-US step closer to phasing out HFCs

The Montreal Convention expects HFCs to be phased out by 2020 for developed nations and 2030 for developing nations.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:September 29, 2013 2:01 am

Moving a step forward to resolving the tussle over phasing out HFCs,US President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have agreed to immediately convene the India-US Task Force on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to discuss ways to use the Montreal protocol to phase out HFCs — gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners that contribute to global warming but are not ozone depleting.

India’s Ministry of Environment & Forests has so far held that HFCs should be dealt with under the UN Framework for Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Kyoto Protocol that address the issue of green house gas emissions and not the Montreal Protocol that is specific to ozone depleting substances.

The green ministry’s contention is that bringing HFCs — of which India besides other developing nations is a major consumer — under the Montreal Protocol will compel the country to switch to alternative,expensive and inadequately tested technology from developed nations.

The Montreal Convention expects HFCs to be phased out by 2020 for developed nations and 2030 for developing nations. The Kyoto Protocol on the other hand — on which HFCs are listed as one of the six green house gases — requires developed countries to meet specific and strict emission reduction targets.

India,however,recently staged a change in its stance on the subject by signing the G 20 declaration at St Petersburg that called for mitigation of HFC emissions under the Montreal protocol.

Senior officials from the environment ministry said that a draft report of the India-US Task Force on HFCs was being readied with the divergent views of both sides being put together.

The ministry view,sources said,remains that there are still no viable and time-tested alternatives to HFCs to enable the big switch from HFCs.

The joint statement issued Saturday announces that India-US Task Force on HFCs will “discuss multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and the institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs,based on economically-viable and technically feasible alternatives,and include HFCs within the scope of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions”.

The statement also adds that HFCs will continue to be included within the scope of UNFCCC and its Kyoto protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions.

The statement recognises climate change as “a defining challenge” and announces the India-US Climate Change Working Group “to develop and advance action-oriented cooperation,as well as to begin an enhanced dialogue focusing on working closely in developing an ambitious climate change agreement for the post-2020 period,and on strengthening bilateral efforts in this regard”.

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