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India recently ratified the Kigali Agreement to the Montreal Protocol after 5 years of negotiation. It is expected to help energize collective global effort to address global warming as well as climate change.
- In 1989 Montreal Protocol was signed to protect the ozone layer of the upper atmosphere.
- It aimed at removal of a set of chemicals, mainly the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were extensively used in air conditioning system and found to be damaging the ozone layer
- The Montreal Protocol mandated the complete phase-out of CFCs and other ozone depleting substances (ODS)
- CFCs were gradually replaced, first by hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) and eventually by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which have minimal impact on the ozone layer
- Now the Kigali Amendment, negotiated in 2016 is aiming at gradual phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
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- HFCs are known to be much worse than carbon dioxide in causing global warming. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the average global warming potential of HFCs is about 2,500 times that of carbon dioxide.
- However, HFCs are not harmful to the ozone layer (as they are weak ozone depleting substances) and for this reason they are not controlled substances under the Montreal Protocol.
- Hence, as a problematic Greenhouse gases they were sought to be removed through climate change instruments such as the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and the 2015 Paris Agreement
- But the Montreal Protocol has been a far more effective and successful agreement than the climate change instruments, thus it was decided to use the Montreal Protocol to phase out HFCs.
- India played a key role in negotiating the Kigali Amendment and successfully put forth the cause of domestic industry to get an extended timeline for phaseout of HFCs. The alternatives to HFCs are costly, and thus the extended timeline will help domestic industries to make swifter transition
- It also announced India Cooling Action Plan, 2019.
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