In­dia un­der pres­sure on HFCs as world seeks cli­mate ac­cord

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

In­dia will face pres­sure to speed up its plans for cut­ting green­house gases used in re­frig­er­a­tors, air con­di­tion­ing and aerosols when gov­ern­ments meet this week to ham­mer out what would be a third key deal to limit cli­mate change in a month.

About 150 na­tions meet in Rwanda, from Oct. 10-14 to try to agree a phase down of fac­tory-made hy­droflu­o­ro­car­bon (HFC) gases. US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry will be among those at­tend­ing.

A quick phase-down of HFCs could be a big con­tri­bu­tion to slow cli­mate change, avoid­ing per­haps 0.5 de­gree Cel­sius (0.9 Fahren­heit) of a pro­jected rise in av­er­age tem­per­a­tures by 2100, sci­en­tists say. But In­dia wants a peak in poor na­tions’ ris­ing emis­sions only in 2031, to give in­dus­tries time to adapt. More than 100 other na­tions in­clud­ing the United States, the Euro­pean Union and African states, favour a peak in 2021.

“It re­ally does mat­ter how early the agree­ment kicks in,” said Jake Sch­midt, of the U.S. Nat­u­ral Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil, which reck­ons In­dia’s pro­posal would add the equiv­a­lent of al­most a year of global car­bon emis­sions to the at­mos­phere. “We must get enough time be­fore the phas­ing out pe­riod starts. We are very clear,” In­dian En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Anil Mad­hav Dave said on Oct. 1, ac­cord­ing to the Times of In­dia.

Use of HFCs, which can be 10,000 times more pow­er­ful than car­bon diox­ide as green­house gases, is al­ready de­clin­ing in many rich na­tions. An HFC ac­cord would be the third big step this month to curb global warm­ing af­ter the 2015 Paris Agree­ment for a global shift from fos­sil fu­els gained enough back­ing to en­ter into force and gov­ern­ments agreed a deal to limit emis­sions from avi­a­tion.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, hail­ing the Paris Agree­ment at the White House last week, said HFCs and avi­a­tion would also help “build a world that is safer and more pros­per­ous and more se­cure”.

The U.S. pres­i­dent has been keen to se­cure global cli­mate agree­ments, meant to limit ris­ing sea lev­els, droughts, floods and heat­waves, as part of his legacy. Last month, 16 gov­ern­ments in­clud­ing the United States, Ja­pan and Ger­many and pri­vate donors such as Mi­crosoft founder Bill Gates agreed an $80 mil­lion fund to help an early phase down of HFCs, hop­ing to per­suade de­vel­op­ing na­tions to sign up.

Many in­dus­tries are al­ready mov­ing. “Un­likely as it may seem, a global HFC phase-down is backed both by lead­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal groups and the in­dus­try that makes and uses these chem­i­cals,” said Frank Maisano, of the US Air-con­di­tion­ing, Heat­ing and Re­frig­er­a­tion In­sti­tute which rep­re­sents com­pa­nies such as Car­rier Corp or Honey­well.

“We and many others in the in­dus­try have started to phase out HFCs. But the process is not com­pleted,” said Daniel Frykholm, spokesman for Swe­den’s Elec­trolux which wants to halve its green­house gas emis­sions by 2020 from 2005 lev­els.

The HFC talks are part of the 1987 Mon­treal Pro­to­col, which suc­ceeded in cut­ting the use of chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bons (CFCs) to help pro­tect the ozone layer, which shields the planet from ul­tra­vi­o­let rays that can cause skin cancer. But the HFCs that have of­ten re­placed them, while bet­ter for the ozone layer, are pow­er­ful green­house gases. — Reuters

FRANK­FURT: A crow flies with a wal­nut in its beak in Frank­furt am Main, west­ern Ger­many, yes­ter­day. —AFP

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