The signing of the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol in 2016 was historic. After the Paris Agreement, the international community was keen to reach an agreement on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are much more climate-damaging than carbon dioxide. The HFCs were a replacement for hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) with high ozone-depleting potential. Therefore, despite the fact that HFCs have a zero ozone-depleting potential, it has now been brought under the ambit of the Montreal Protocol that deals with the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances. This is the reason why it is called the “second big climate deal” after the 2015 Paris Agreement and a diplomatic victory.
India too got on board with the amendment upholding the principle of differentiation, as far as timetables, reductions and baselines are concerned. The amendment seeks to reduce HFC use by 85 percent by 2045. India has committed legally to freeze HFCs in 2028 and reduce 75 percent of its cumulative HFC emissions between 2015 and 2050. In fulfilling its pledge, India’s residential and commercial cooling sectors, mobile air-conditioning in cars and commercial refrigeration have a crucial role to play as these are touted to be the source of highest HFC emissions in the long term.
India has already set the ball rolling by initiating R&D programmes and several pilot projects to replace synthetic refrigerants with natural ones and the industry is keen to switch to greener refrigerants. In this context, India seeks to cooperate with the EU to learn from the European experiences refrigeration, cold chain and AC; to invite investments in its efforts to advance the country’s green cooling efforts; and to engage in collaborative R&D to make the Kigali amendment a success.
Against this background, the India-EU Green Cooling Conference took place in New Delhi on 27 April 2017, with the aim to discuss and brainstorm solutions for eco-friendly refrigeration and air conditioning and cold chain in India, under the purview of India-EU Clean Energy and Climate Partnership.
Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador, Delegation of EU to India and Bhutan, asserted in his welcome address, “The EU is and will remain a devoted partner to India on all issues related to climate, environment and energy” and that the approach would be purely “practical and result-oriented”. This reflects the nature of climate diplomacy between India and the EU, centred on practical goals in terms of technology and finance, aimed at achieving the targets set in international climate and other treaties or agreements.
India, on the other hand, realises that the EU is the driving force in refrigeration and cold chain. Together with the EU, it is committed to increasing the spread, affordability and energy efficiency of refrigeration and air conditioning, as well as preventing food loss and waste due to inadequate cold chain infrastructure.
What must be a priority for India, the EU and the rest of the world is to direct the policy towards leapfrogging to avoid multiple conversions, save greenhouse gases and costs. In his respect, the EU has a key role in advancing green solutions, whether it is through the creation of an innovation fund to conduct R&D in disruptive cooling technology or promoting cooperation in industrial and training associations.
The two parties have a responsibility to ensure that the Kigali amendment is enforced amidst growing uncertainties about which way the US, one of the world’s largest HFC consumers, would go on the question of ratification of the amendment.
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Dhanasree Jayaram is Project Associate, Manipal Advanced Research Group (MARG), Manipal University, Karnataka, India.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal.