Kigali agreement: Prospects and Issues

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The Climate Change and sustainability has become the buzz words considering the global warming and its multiplier effects on agriculture, industry, people and governments. A landmark agreement at Paris to limit the rise of earth’s temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius of pre industrial levels doesn’t seem enough considering the debilitating impacts of HFCs(Hydro Fluorocarbons) to climate change.

It is in this backdrop that the new amendment to Montreal Protocol at capital city of Kigali gains prominence as a supporting pillar to the Paris agreement. These two climate change agreements are critical to climate change combat prerogatives. It is in this context that Kigali agreement is important for success of the landmark Paris agreement and hence makes it a hot topic for CSE Mains 2017

 

What is the Kigali Agreement?

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  1. In the 28th meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, negotiators from 197 nations have signed a historic agreement to amend the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, a capital city of a tiny African country, Rwanda on 15th October 2016.
  2. As per the agreement, these countries are expected to reduce the manufacture and use of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by roughly 80-85% from their respective baselines, till 2045.
  3. This phase down is expected to arrest the global average temperature rise up to 0.5 degrees C by 2100.
  4. Kigali agreement is an amendment to Montreal Protocol.

 

Significance of Kigali Agreement:

  1. Many scientists hailed it as an important achievement, which could be crucial to the goal laid out in last year’s Paris Agreement of holding global temperature rise below 2°C by 2100.
  2. The Kigali agreement builds on momentum from other international efforts this past year aimed at addressing climate change.
  3. Unlike Paris agreement, it gives clear, concrete and mandatory targets with fixed timelines to the signatory parties to achieve their targets.
  4. It would prevent the emission of HFCs equivalent to 70 billion tons of CO2.
  5. Total HFC emissions are far less contributors of climate change in comparisons to other greenhouse gasses, but HFCs are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide on a pound-per-pound basis.
  6. If all signatory countries implemented this agreement effectively, then could on its own prevent a 0.5°C (0.9°F) rise in temperature by 2100.

 

Key pointers of Kigali Agreement:

  1. It is a legally binding agreement between the signatory parties with non-compliance measures.
  2. It will come into effect from 1st January 2019 provided it is ratified by at least 20 member parties by then.
  3. It has shown a considerable flexibility in approach while setting phase-down targets for different economies accommodating their developmental aspirations, different socio-economic compulsions, and scientific & technological capabilities.

It has divided the signatory parties into three groups-

  1. The first group consists of rich and developed economies like USA, UK and EU countries who will start to phase down HFCs by 2019 and reduce it to 15% of 2012 levels by 2036.
  2. The second group consists of emerging economies like China, Brazil as well as some African countries who will start phase down by 2024 and reduce it to 20% of 2021 levels by 2045.
  3. The third group consists of developing economies and some of the hottest climatic countries like India, Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia who will start phasing down HFCs by 2028 and reduce it to 15% of 2024-2026 levels till 2047.
  4. It also has a provision for a multilateral fund for developing countries for adaptation and mitigation.
  5. The Technology and Energy Assessment Panel (TEAP) will take a periodic review of the alternative technologies and products for their energy efficiency and safety standards.

 

Indian Perspective to Kigali Agreement:

  1. One of the questions before India in its implementation of Montreal Protocol commitments is the need to align its goals for ‘Make in India’ with green technologies in order to remain competitive in global markets.
  2. With Developed nations agreeing to cut 70 per cent of their HFC use by 2029, India will start reducing its HFC consumption when the developed countries would have reduced their consumption by 70 per cent.
  3. The Agreement upholds the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities, which means the agreement recognizes the development imperatives of high-growth economies like India, and provides a realistic and viable roadmap for its implementation.
  4. India a responsible nation: It has announced that it will eliminate the use of HFC-23, a greenhouse gas that harms the ozone layer, by 2030. HFC-23 is a super greenhouse gas with a GWP of 14,800, which is produced as a byproduct of HCFC-22 (Chloro-difluoro-methane) used in industrial refrigeration.
  5. Financial implications: Industries have to either invest in R & D to find out the substitutes for HFCs or they have to buy patented substances and technologies from other MNCs. Consequently, the cost of production will increase which may ultimately shrink the buyer base for their products.
  6. Technological implications: Some of the developed nations have already started using substitutes of HFCs in their products and have a sound technological knowledge about their use. Without technology transfer or research, it would be difficult for domestic industries to compete with them in global as well as domestic market.

 

Conclusion:

Kigali agreement on phasing down climate-damaging HFCs is one of the historic steps in global fight against climate change. It will play substantial role in holding global temperature rise below 2°C by 2100 as agreed in Paris agreement. Similarly the deal would provide a mechanism for countries like India to access and develop technologies that leave a low carbon footprint. The deal keeps the Paris agreement on track and along with a new deal to cap aviation emissions, it is overwhelmingly positive.

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