India’s decisive move on climate change - GulfToday

India’s decisive move on climate change

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Climate Change

Image used for illustrative purpose only.

On August 18, the Union Cabinet agreed to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol – a significant development in the arena of global climate action.

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval for hydrofluorocarbons phase-down, which is expected to prevent greenhouse gas emissions. A national strategy for the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons will be developed after required consultation with all the industry stakeholders by 2023.

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol has the potential to avoid 0.5°C of warming of the atmosphere by the end of the century by phasing out hydrofluorocarbons. The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty that entered into force in 1989. Its signatories – which includes all UN member nations – are committed to phasing out the use and production of chlorofluorocarbons, compounds that led to the infamous hole in the ozone layer.

While the ozone hole has since been recovering, the treaty was amended in 2016 (for the ninth time) to include hydrofluorocarbons, which contribute significantly to global warming. The negotiations were conducted in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, and the inclusion was called the Kigali Amendment. It has been signed by more than 122 countries so far.

The terms of the Kigali Amendment entered into force in 2019 require ratifying countries to reduce their use of HFCs by 80% by 2050. Doing so was estimated to be able to reduce Earth’s average surface warming by 0.5º C over pre-industrial era levels.

Amendments to the existing legislation framework, the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules to allow appropriate control of the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons to ensure compliance with the Kigali Amendment will be done by mid-2024.

The phase-down of HFCs is expected to prevent the emission of up to 105 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases, helping to avoid up to 0.5 degree Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100, while continuing to protect the ozone layer, according to officials.

According to the amendment, implementation of HFC phase-down through the adoption of low-global warming potential and energy-efficient technologies will achieve energy efficiency gains and carbon dioxide emissions reduction which is a “climate co-benefit.”

Some developing countries have slightly different terms. For example, India will be expected to reduce its HFCs use starting from 2028, by 85% of the figure for 2024-2046 by the year 2047.

The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the first part of which was published on August 7, has already warned that the planet’s surface will warm by 1.5º C by 2050.It also stressed that even if countries that had declared emissions-cutting pledges stuck to them, Earth’s surface would warm by 2.7º C, threatening the lives of hundreds of millions of people and change weather patterns for millennia.

According to Climate Action Tracker, India is one of a few countries whose actions are compatible with keeping warming below 2º C by the end of the century. However, this is incompatible with the Paris Agreement, which stipulates a threshold of 1.5º C.

The world’s top two polluters are China and the US – and their deadlines under the Kigali Amendment to achieve HFCs cuts are 2045 and 2036, respectively. The US in particular has been under pressure at climate negotiations to commit to more than its ‘fair share’ of cuts due to historical pollution. The next major climate action conference, the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is scheduled to take place later this year in Glasgow, Scotland.

An Indian Express report quoted the Centre as saying, “Amendments to the existing legislation framework, the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules to allow appropriate control of the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons to ensure compliance with the Kigali Amendment, will be done by mid-2024.”

India recently crossed the milestone of 100 GW of installed renewable energy capacity, en route to its target of 175 GW by 2022. However, experts have expressed concerns over the country’s overall energy policy – considering the Centre has been pushing both renewable and fossil-fuel-based energy production.

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