President Paul Kagame has said the earliest possible phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), will make the world safer, and more prosperous.
President Kagame said this, yesterday, while addressing a high-level session of the ongoing 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.
The meeting, at Kigali Convention Centre, has brought together over 1,000 delegates including government representatives, leaders of multilateral organisations and environmental experts, among others to discuss the way forward in addressing climate change.
“We are on the cusp of momentous progress. We have the chance to make a major step forward in the fight to limit the effects of climate change on our environment and our people,” President Kagame said.
Research shows that HFCs are exceptionally potent drivers of climate change. To put it into context, HFCs are thousands of times more potent than, carbon dioxide.
The growing use of HFCs in everyday items like refrigerators, air conditioners or inhalers is responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer, according to the experts.
It is against this background that global environment leaders meeting in Kigali are deliberating on the possible way forward to address global warming.
The first major step would be amending the 1987 Montreal Protocol with a view of finding common ground upon which the world would phase down HFCs.
Kagame acknowledged that the Protocol, regarded as the most successful international environment treaty, has indeed done a lot in healing the ozone layer—which had initially been affected by chlofluorocarbons (CFCs).
The healing of the ozone layer, Kagame said, has made the world safe and prosperous.
“The world has not gotten poorer, in that time. On the contrary, we have experienced the largest expansion of prosperity and well-being, ever recorded. But our work is not done. The earliest possible phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons [HFCs], will make our world safer, and more prosperous. We should not allow ourselves be satisfied with making a little bit of good progress when it is within our power to actually solve the problem,” the President added.
Kagame is optimistic that the faster the parties act, regarding finding common ground to phasedown HFCs, the lower the financial costs will be, and the lighter the environmental burden, on the next generation.
“My message to all of us today is a call to ambition: Let’s not only get it done, but do it well,” he added.
Erik Solheim, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said parties need to be “flexible” to reach an agreement to phase down HFCs.
“We can only solve global problems by working together. No country can solve shared challenges alone. Collaboration is key. Let us be the change we want to see in this world,” Solheim said.
Experts say if nations agree to amend the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, to phase down HFCs, it will mark a huge step closer to tackling global warming.
Gina McCarthy, administrator of the US Environmental Protection Authority, said the much anticipated amendment will send a “long-term signal” that the world is ready to act to mitigate climate change.
President Kagame called for increased collaboration.
“The key is to work in a spirit of multilateral cooperation, and mutual respect. We need more signs of this, in our world today,” Kagame said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry announced last month that, “if an ambitious amendment is concluded in Kigali, the United States and other donor countries intend to contribute an additional $27 million to the multilateral fund in 2017 alone as extra support for the amendment’s implementation.”
Kerry added that because parties recognise that governments alone will not solve this challenge, nearly 20 donors from the philanthropic community will complement these funds to the tune of more than $50 million.
Different phase-out baselines
Developed and developing countries have been discussing the need to control HFC emissions for over a decade now, but with varying commitments on baselines.
The US wants action to be “speedy” enough for global emissions to reach their peak by 2021, then to start falling.
China seeks to postpone the baseline until 2023. Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia lean toward 2025. India had lobbied for close to 2030, but has since come down to 2026 during the Kigali negotiations.
However, African countries and low-lying island states—already disproportionately affected by global warming—are pushing for a speedy timeframe.