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150 Nations Agree Deal In Rwanda To Cut Greenhouse Gases

Two groups of developing countries will freeze their use of the gases by either 2024 or 2028, and then gradually reduce their use

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More than 150 nations meeting in Rwanda hammered out a global deal to cut back on greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners, a Rwandan minister announced to loud cheers on Saturday, a major milestone in combating climate change.

The deal divides countries into three groups with different deadlines to reduce the use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases, which can be 10,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases.

"The amendment and decisions are adopted," said Rwanda's Minister for Natural Resources, Vincent Biruta, before applause drowned out the rest of his words.

Under the pact, developed nations, including much of Europe and the United States, commit to reducing their use of the gases incrementally, starting with a 10 per cent cut by 2019 and reaching 85 per cent by 2036.

Many wealthier nations have already begun to reduce their use of HFCs.

India Deadline
Two groups of developing countries will freeze their use of the gases by either 2024 or 2028, and then gradually reduce their use. India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the Gulf countries will meet the later deadline.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met officials from China, India and Pakistan during the talks this week. India, the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, had asked for more time for developing nations to adapt their industries.

"We cared for our development, industrial interest and at the same time the interest of the country," Indian Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, who attended the high-level segment of the conference in Kigali, said.

Under the amendment, three different schedules have been set for countries to freeze and then reduce their production and use of HFCs.

The developed countries, led by the US and Europe, will reduce HFC use by 85 per cent by 2036 over a 2011-13 baseline.

China, which is the largest producer of HFCs in the world, will reduce HFC use by 80 per cent by 2045 over the 2020-22 baseline.

India will reduce the use of HFCs by 85 per cent over the 2024-26 baseline.

Developed countries have also agreed to provide enhanced funding support to developing countries.

Unlike the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Montreal Protocol amendment is legally binding.

Hailing the role played by India reaching the deal, Indian climate experts said India went with a clear strategy and a proactive agenda to enhance the overall environmental ambition of the deal and to protect the nation's economic interests.

"The amendment finally agreed to not only protect India's economic interests, but also doubles the climate benefit compared to the previous Indian proposal. It will avoid HFC emissions equivalent to 70 billion tonne of CO2," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

(Agencies)