Kigali Agreement

Kigali Agreement, formally known as the Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol was adopted at the 28th Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone Layer (MOP28) at Kigali, Rwanda in October 2016. The agreement lays down a framework for the reduction, and finally phasing out, of the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Under the Kigali Agreement, all the 197 countries have agreed to reduce the usage of HFCs by 85 percent of their respective baselines by 2045.

Kigali Agreement

Kigali Agreement, being a part of Montreal Protocol, is legally binding on all the countries. It includes provisions for penalties which can be imposed on member nations for non-compliance to their respective targets. As part of this agreement, developed countries are to provide additional funding support, worth billions of dollars, to developing countries in order to help them transition away from HFCs. The assistance will be channelled through the Multilateral Fund created under the Montreal Protocol.

Developed countries have historically been the highest emitters of HFCs but their emissions from the developing countries have been rising at faster rates because of their increasing use for refrigeration and air-conditioning purposes.

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HFCs - uses and implications

Hydrofluorocarbons were introduced as replacements for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which were sought to be eliminated under the Montreal Protocol because they were ozone-depleting substances, in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, aerosol sprays etc. HFCs do not have chlorine atom in them and hence do not deplete the ozone layer unlike the other two class of refrigerants.

However, HFCs were a family of greenhouse gases (GHGs) whose global warming potential (GWP) i.e., their ability to absorb and retain the longwave radiation reflected by the earth, is several times higher than that of carbon dioxide. At present, HFCs have been identified as the world's fastest rising GHG emissions, with their emissions increasing at a rate of around 10 % every year. Thus, HFCs may have helped in reducing the ozone hole over Antarctica but have contributed to an increase in global temperatures.

HFC phase-out timelines

Under the Agreement, all the countries have been categorized into three groups and are assigned different timelines, based on their respective capabilities under the principle of common but different responsibilities (CBDR of UNFCCC), for the phase-out of HFCs.

  • First Group - includes the industrialized nations such as countries of the European Union, the United States etc. They have to freeze the production and consumption of HFCs by 2018 and reduce their use to around 15 % of 2012 levels by 2036.
  • Second Group - includes developing countries such as China, Brazil, the whole of Africa etc. They have to freeze the production and consumption of HFCs by 2024 and reduce their use to around 20 % of 2021 levels by 2045.
  • Third Group - includes developing countries such as India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. They have to freeze the production and consumption of HFCs by 2028 and reduce their use to 15 % of 2025 levels by 2047.

The significance of the Agreement

Though the HFCs are not ozone-depleting substances they have been included under the Montreal Protocol since they were introduced as substitutes for CFCs and HCFCs. By achieving the phase-out of HFCs within the targets set under the Kigali Agreement, a potential 0.5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures can be averted by the end of this century.

Paris Climate Agreement will come into force from 2020. It has set a target of limiting the rise in global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius until the end of this century, and possibly limit the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, unlike the Kigali Agreement, the Paris Agreement is not legally binding on the members. Hence, Kigali Agreement becomes absolutely essential to help achieve the targets set under the Paris Agreement.

India's role

Under the Kigali Agreement, India will have multiple baseline years - 2024, 2025, 2026. While the freeze year is set at 2028, a technology review is to be conducted in 2024-25 and if the growth in sectors using these refrigerants is found to be higher than a certain threshold, its freeze year can be pushed to 2030. India has agreed to complete its phase-out in four steps beginning in 2032 and achieving a cumulative reduction of 10 % in 2032, 20 % in 2037, 30 % in 2042, and finally 85 % reduction in 2047.

At the 28th MOP to Montreal Protocol in Kigali, India had announced that it will eliminate the use of HFC-23 by 2030. HFC-23 is a by-product of HCFC-22 (a common refrigerant) and has a global warming potential which is 14,800 times that of carbon dioxide. With this move, India can potentially check the emission of around 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over the next 15 years.

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