India has put forth a surprise proposal to increase the ambition of developed and developing nations to tackle the menace of Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs).
At a time when negotiators from around 200 countries are making efforts to strike a deal in order to phase-down the harmful refrigerant gas at the October 10-14 ‘Open Ended Working Group’ meeting in the largest Rwandan city of Kigali, India has urged the international community to consider an early baseline year in order to bring down HFC consumption, saying that the developed countries should agree to an early “freeze year”. India believes that the proposed move will help drastically reduce the consumption of the climate-damaging greenhouse gas.
Manoj Kumar Singh, the Joint Secretary at the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, has explained that the baseline is the maximum quantity of HFCs consumed by a country in a year and freeze year is the year in which the baseline consumption has to be reached. He told the press that after reaching the baseline consumption, countries would have to start reducing HFC consumption from baseline. As usual, the developed countries are not eager to accept India’s proposal because they are trying to avoid taking any “extra burden” to protect the environment.
Singh, currently leading the Indian delegation in Kigali, stressed that the developed countries should reduce HFC consumption by 70% in the next 10 years. “We have requested a steeper reduction from the developed countries, but there is no change in their position,” he said before attending the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.
India has also requested the developed nation to ensure better access to technology in an attempt to increase their ambition, with Singh saying: “We want a strong amendment proposal so that HFCs are reduced faster in both developed and developing countries. This shows our concern for climate.” “I am quite appreciative of the fact that one of the largest consumer, producer and exporter of HFCs in the developing countries has taken initiative and has voluntarily decided to take early baseline and freeze year. But we said no to their proposal,” he added. Meanwhile, the senior Indian official slammed the US for trying to isolate New Delhi on the HFC phase-down issue.
China (the world’s largest producer of HFCs), too, opposes India’s proposal. Beijing has strongly criticised India for prescribing two different HFC phase-down schedule – one for China and countries that want to join the Asian giant, and the second one for other developing nations.
Indian climate experts have countered the Chinese stand, saying in a statement: “The idea of developed countries taking steeper reduction target and China taking more responsibility of HFC reduction than other developing countries is a very sound principle.” In Kigali, Deputy Director General of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Chandra Bhushan told the media: “It also reflects the current realities of the world where developed countries and some developing countries, like China, are big polluters and they also have resources to clean up. They, therefore, should move fast.”