India’s policy push towards widely limiting hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) release would depend significantly on funding provided by developed nations, an environment ministry official said on Tuesday.

HFCs are factory-made chemicals that are primarily used in air-conditioning, refrigeration, and foam insulation. These can be hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change.

A group of 16 countries, including the US, UK, Japan, Germany and Australia, has agreed to provide $27m next year to help support an early end to HFCs but developing nations have pushed for more support. Signatories to the Montreal Protocol will be meeting in early October in Kigali, Rwanda to discuss these issues.

Additional Secretary in the Environment Ministry R R Rashmi said: “There are different estimates as to what it will cost to make the switch but we must emphasise in Kigali the commitment of donor countries has to be absolute and this assurance is necessary to fulfil any commitments India makes.”

India is one of the countries that has held out on accepting the 1987 Montreal Protocol deadline on completely freezing HFC use. Though the Protocol allows for “differentiated responsibilities” for developing and developed nations, the US has been pushing for a baseline year of 2018 for phasing out HFCs and a complete freeze on their use by 2020, while India is pushing for a 2028-31 deadline.

According to a research by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water the economy-wide cost of transition for India between 2015 and 2050 would be 12 billion Euros for the Indian proposal and 34 billion Euros for the North American proposal.

Left unchecked, global HFC emissions could grow to be equivalent to 19 per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions in 2050. There are alternative refrigerants that have comparable performance to HFCs but with significantly reduced climate-changing properties.

Source: September 28, 2016, Business Standard