After week-long intense negotiations, politicians gathered in Kigali agreed to an amendment that sets the dates for phase down of highly potent gas, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), used in air conditioning and refrigeration electronics.
The final negotiations, which started Friday morning, went on through the night and the deal was struck on Saturdaymorning at around 7am local time.
The mood inside Kigali Convention Centre on Saturday morning was one of cheers, jubilation, hugs and tears of joy as Parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted the Kigali amendment.
According to experts, this is a major milestone as global leaders grapple to mitigate effects of climate change.
“The Kigali amendment is no longer a dream it is a reality,” said Minister of Natural Resources and the President of the 28 Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP28).
After making the announcement, Biruta told the delegates that, “Your commitment to a prosperous future and willingness to collaborate is a hallmark of the Montreal Protocol and the best of humanity.”
Environmentalists says that if HFC growth is not stopped, it will become virtually impossible to meet the Paris Agreement targets of holding warming below 2°C.
HFCs are considered to be 10,000 times more potent in trapping heat within the atmosphere accelerating global temperature rise. Their average lifespan in the atmosphere is about 5 - 10 years, eliminating their use would result in immediate results.
The passed amendment on HFC phase down is set to avoid about 70 billion tons of carbon emissions equivalent by 2050.
Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA), who was present during the negotiations termed the Kigali amendment a “great deal” and one of the major breakthroughs the world has ever made to curb climate-wrecking super pollutants.
“This day will unquestionably be remembered as one of the most important in our effort to save the one planet we have. It is truly an exciting time for all of us who have worked so hard to achieve this new level of success, and as head of the U.S. delegation, I could not be more delighted with the outcome of the negotiations and our collective resolve. The prospects for the future of our planet are bright,” McCarthy said.
David Doniger, the programme director of Climate and Clean Air from India’s Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) said.
“This is the biggest step we can take in the year after the Paris agreement, and is equal to stopping the entire world’s fossil-fuel carbon emissions for more than two years.
“Bringing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol also sends a clear signal to the global marketplace to start replacing these dangerous chemicals with a new generation of climate-friendly and energy-efficient alternatives.”
Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, the director-general of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), told The New Times that, “the Kigali amendment positions Rwanda as the icon of hope for the rest of the world to achieve a safer planet for the generations to come.”
Agreed HFC phase out baseline years
The passed amendment has two separate phase down schedules for developing countries (Article 5) and one phase down date for the developed countries (Article 2).
The A2 countries have agreed to a baseline of 2011-2013 with cuts in HFCs beginning in 2019.
Whereas A5 countries have agreed to two sub groups with two different baselines.
A5 Group 2 includes India, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq - with a baseline of 2024-2026 and a freeze date of 2028. The remaining developing countries have favored an early phase down with a baseline of 2020-2022 and a freeze date of 2024.
The scheduled phase down of HFCs will help avoid close to 70 billion tons of CO2 emission equivalent which translates into shutting down of 750 coal power plants or shutting down over half of coal power stations in China.
China, described as a developing country and biggest consumer of HFCs agreed to an early phase down of HFCs during the initial rounds of negotiation.
Whereas India decided to come down from its earlier position of 2031 to 2024-2026.
This, thus elevated pressure on other developing countries to either align with China for an early phase down date of 2020-2022 or decide for a later phase down date of 2024-2026.
2020-2022 baseline dates were favored by other parties like, Brazil, African nations, Small Island Nations as well as Latin and South American nations.
Apart from India, the 2024-2026 baseline was also favored by Pakistan and the Middle Eastern Countries.
Manoj Kumar Singh, India’s Joint Secretary in the ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that his country is “really happy” with the Kigali agreement.
“We have indeed achieved a balanced agreement in Kigali and that’s what we wanted—which allows us enough time to implement the amendments agreed upon,” Manoj said.
Now, the world needs about $6 billion to implement the Kigali amendment.
Reliable sources confirmed that parties had so far collected just $80 million from developed countries and multilateral funds towards this cause.