India will gain by leadership role in Montreal Protocol changes: US advocacy group

Kigali (Rwanda), Oct 12 (IANS) India will gain substantially from progressive participation in achieving a strong amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which can spur its domestic market growth, a US-based environmental advocacy group said on Wednesday.

India along with the global community has an opportunity to take the next big step after the Paris Agreement to reduce climate change that “threatens us all”, David Doniger, Director, Climate and Clean Air with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told IANS.

“A strong amendment to the Montreal Protocol can spur domestic market growth in energy-efficient and climate-friendly cooling through international funding,” he said.

“Like the Paris Agreement, India’s participation and leadership are critical to halting the surge in HFCs — super-potent greenhouse gases,” Doniger added.

Heat-trapping substance hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs — the refrigeration and air-conditioning coolants — though not harming the ozone layer, have a high global-warming potential.

He said India’s participation is critical to expanding climate protection, especially for vulnerable communities, since HFCs are “currently the fastest growing climate pollutants.”

Addressing HFCs under Montreal Protocol is essential to protecting the planet from climate change and can help the world meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit in rise of global temperatures sought by participants in Paris, he said.

India on Tuesday played a crucial role in the ongoing negotiations on the Montreal Protocol by favouring two baseline years for bringing down the consumption of HFCs by the developing countries — provided the developed world “agrees to reduce its consumption by 70 percent by 2027”.

India, at the 28th meeting of the Parties to the 1989 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, also demanded transparency and more clarity for the allocation of funds to developing countries for research and development which would help a smooth technological transition.

According to Doniger, achieving a favorable Montreal Protocol HFC agreement is a major opportunity for Indian companies to look ahead and avoid obsolete technology while covering transition costs from Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund and spurring use of energy-efficient appliances.

“Leading businesses in India support early action to phase down HFCs. Companies such as Godrej, Daikin and Ingersoll Rand, are moving forward with environmentally friendly and more energy efficient alternatives. The automobile industry is phasing down HFCs internationally, signaling opportunities for the export market,” Doniger said.

Advocating the need for achieving an ambitious HFC phase-down agreement, he said it would accelerate the shift to a cleaner, more sustainable future and help protect millions, if not billions, of people from climate catastrophe.

At the same time, he advocated adequate funding, without delay, for research and development to the developing world for a smooth technological transition.

To encourage early action, key developed countries and philanthropic foundations pledged $80 million in new funding in 2017, focused on developing markets with fast-start support for implementation and energy efficiency improvements.

“Combining benefits from energy efficiency and climate-friendly cooling is vital to developing markets, like India, with rising air-conditioning demand. Efficient air conditioners put less stress on the electrical grid, reduce climate pollution from power plants,” he said.

Anjali Jaiswal, who is India representative on the Natural Resources Defense Council, said to achieve the Paris Agreement, India worked closely with the BASIC group, which includes Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

These emerging economies can leverage their partnership to work together again along with other nations to achieve an ambitious HFC phase-down, she said.

The start date for developing countries to phase out HFCs is still coming together.

They have proposed two groups with separate baselines: 2020-2022 for a majority, including Brazil, South Africa, China, the African group, island nations, Latin American countries, among others.

A smaller group, including India, Pakistan, and Middle Eastern countries, are proposing a baseline of 2024-2026.

“We need to see strong climate action and early start dates from all countries, including India. India along with the global community has an opportunity to take the next biggest step after the Paris Agreement to reduce climate change that threatens us all,” Jaiswal added.

A team of the Natural Resources Defense Council is here as an observer to the Montreal Protocol.

(Vishal Gulati is in Kigali, Rwanda, at the invitation of Global Strategic Communication Council, to cover the meeting on Montreal Protocol. He can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

–IANS

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