NEW DELHI (May 28, 2015) - In an unanticipated move last month, the Indian government took the bold step of submitting to the Montreal Protocol its amendment proposal for curbing hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) consumption and emissions. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), today convened a roundtable in New Delhi to discuss this amendment proposal, chart out a roadmap of how India could embark on a successful transition to low global-warming refrigerants, and highlight key challenges including technology availability, financing, safety and costs.
Delivering the keynote address, Shri Susheel Kumar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, said, "With India's HFC amendment proposal we hope to have changed the rules of the game in the international climate negotiations. The proposal is our attempt to balance the need for HFC phase-down and the need for development of industries and the society. The proposal also gives a clear policy signal to the industries that HFCs would be phased down."
He further added, "We want India's final proposal to be built with consensus from all the stakeholders, including the industry and think-tanks. The proposal should be India's proposal, and not just the government's. Further research and debate regarding IPR issues, finance and skilling of the service sector are also required."
Shri Susheel Kumar also released a joint report prepared by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and Vienna-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The report is the first modelling exercise of India's long term hydrofluorocarbon emissions.
India's built environment and vehicular density is projected to grow multi-fold in the coming decades. As rapid economic growth results in rising standards of living, use of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment is also expanding rapidly. The CEEW-IIASA report contains a detailed sector-by-sector analysis of the global warming impact of long-term HFC emissions from the residential, commercial, transportation and industrial sectors in India.
Highlighting key findings from the report, Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW, said, "CEEW's first-of-its kind modelling analysis quantifies India's HFC emissions if these chemicals were to replace hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), as per India's commitments under the Montreal Protocol. But HFCs also have high global warming impact. We find that, if unabated, India's HFC emissions across sectors will reach 500 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (MtCO2eq) in 2050. This translates to a cumulative emission of 6.55 gigatonnes CO2 equivalent (GtCO2eq) over the next 35 years."
"However, India has proposed that a phase down of HFCs could be negotiated under the Montreal Protocol. If the Indian amendment proposal is accepted, our analysis finds that 4.2 Gt CO2eq. would be avoided between 2010 and 2050, or 64% of the total HFCs that will emitted between 2010 and 2050. For the second half of this century, avoided HFC emissions would amount to almost 41 GtCO2eq.," he added. "That is similar to total global CO2 emissions in 2014."
Commenting on the crucial role of efficiency to this debate, Dr Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Research Fellow, CEEW, said "Energy efficiency is of paramount importance during the transition process. Our analysis has shown that there is significant potential of decreasing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity use in the residential sector with increased efficiency. Total potential across sectors will obviously be much more."
"Global markets are already shifting away from HFCs. European Union, Japan, United States, China and a number of other countries are taking steps to phase down use of these chemicals. Products using alternative technologies are already available in Indian markets. More than 300,000 room air conditioning units using low- or mid-GWP refrigerants (HC-290 and HFC-32 respectively) have been sold in India till date, and India's automobile manufacturing companies have been amongst the first in developing countries to test vehicles using low global warming refrigerants (HFO-1234yf and HFC-152a). With India taking leadership in putting forward its own amendment proposal, and China, the African bloc and Latin American, Asian, and small island nations in support of phasing down HFCs, the stage is now set for global action on climate change. When parties meet in November, leaders can come to an agreement to amend the Montreal Protocol and phase down HFCs," said Bhaskar Deol, India Representative, NRDC.