India’s proposal on HFCs gets mixed response in Vienna

India’s pitch for linking the developed and developing nations on reducing Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) has garnered mixed response from experts with some calling it a good proposal while others describing it as a window of opportunity for increasing their usage. Parties to the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty to protect the ozone layer, resumed negotiations here on phasing out HFCs. The meeting which began on July 13 is expected to conclude on Saturday.

HFCs are used as coolants in air-conditioners and refrigerators. The chemicals were introduced to replace the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorocarbons on a large scale. While HFCs do not deplete the ozone layer, most of them are potent greenhouse gases.

India has proposed that in order to phase out the HFCs, the developed countries must take the lead and begin the process immediately and then developing countries could join the process when the former have already reduced the HFCs by 80 per cent.

While countries like China and Kuwait have supported India’s proposal, there have been counter arguments at the conference about giving developed countries time for first increasing its usage and then phasing it out.

“The proposal means if developed countries will move fast so will developing countries. This will create a virtuous relationship so developed countries will be ambitious,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director of Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment think-tank.

Avipsa Mahapatra from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) said, “the...premise is that developing countries go after the developed countries and that has been enshrined in the Montreal protocol that there be a grace period which is negotiable.”

“If the Indian proposal is seen closely it is surprising that they not only have asked for time for themselves but they allow lot more growth in HFCs even for developed countries,” she added.

The United Nations officials expect to have the basis of a deal by tonight that they can take to Kigali, Rwanda in October, where the final agreement is scheduled to be signed off.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 7:35:24 PM |

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