Let’s explore about India ratifying the Kigali amendment to Montreal Protocol. In the recent times, the USA, China and India has ratified the Kigali amendment to Montreal Protocol. There a many steps when a treaty has to come into force, from signing to ratifying. For USA and China, this is a huge boost towards the climate change when they ratified this treaty because USA and China are the largest consumers of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), a potent global warming gas.
So under this ratification, to come into force, it passes through many processes. First is signing of the treaty. After negotiation, comes signing of the treaty. Signing is nothing an intent to comply. Whatever negotiations will take place between the different parties and whenever they reach a certain set of details which they have an intent to comply with, then they will sign the Treaty. But after that the treaty doesn’t come into force after signing, we need ratification. Ratification is basically to form an act in the national terms that will make the Treaty enforceable in the nation. That means the executive or Parliament of India will formulate a certain set of acts or laws which will make that signing of the Treaty to come into practice. That is the basic difference. India has also said that there will be a national strategy to phase down the hydro fluorocarbons. This plan will be coming in front of us by 2023. It will have certain set of infrastructure as well, and skilled and unskilled employment both will be generated.
Whenever we have to phase down with certain set of gases like HFC, which are a set of 19 gases, extensively used in the cooling and many other industries as a coolant and refrigerant, it has to be substituted. Some other gases or other elements need to come into practice so that there will not be a gap, and they will not be avoid which is left by the phasing out of HFC i.e. hydrofluorocarbon. So innovation, research and development comes into play.
Ozone is indicated by O₃. It can be said as good or bad. Good Ozone is the Ozone that exists in the stratosphere. Bad Ozone is the Ozone that exists in the troposphere. Ozone in the stratosphere is good because it protects the earth from harmful UV rays i.e. Ultraviolet rays. Ozone in the troposphere is bad because it is actually a pollutant. It is the main cause of urban smog. Urban smog is caused by Ozone as a pollutant in troposphere. But naturally it occurs in the stratosphere.
The problem started when with the ozone layer started getting depleted. Let’s see the significance of it now. Plants cannot live and grow in heavy ultraviolet rays because it damages many crops such as the crops related to soyabean. So there will be a deterioration in the agriculture, especially from the perspective of India. Also the planktons which are in the chain of aquatic system, that starts getting problem by the UV rays, because when they can’t make food the entire food chain of the aquatic system gets disrupted. They are already under stress according to certain studies. Also, humans would be more susceptible to skin cancer, cataracts and impaired immune system. Melanoma, which is the most severe form of skin cancer, has doubled from the year 1990s.
Ozone Layer Depletion
It was acknowledged in the year 1985 by the Vienna Convention on the Protection of Ozone Layer. There was a huge hole that was being seen and it was acknowledged in the Vienna Convention that we need to protect and the Ozone layer because of this very reason.
So how does the ozone gets depleted in the first place? By global warming potential gases, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) hydrocholorofluorocarbons (HCFC), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), and many others. According to the scientists, UV rays are able to break down hydrofluorocarbons and cholorofluorocarbons into the different classes of chlorine and bromine. So say methyl bromide gas gets broken down into bromide. One chlorine atom can harm about 1 lakh Ozone molecules, thus affecting the Ozone layer.
When a hole in the Ozone layer appears, the harmful rays of the sun will be able to breach the protective Ozone layer around the earth.
Hole of Antarctic
A UN study was conducted in the year 2018 and it was showing positive results with respect to the Montreal Protocol, i.e. the ozone layer was recovering itself at a rate of 1-3%. So there has been a difference over left when we compare both of these years 2018 and 2019. So of course it is being seen in a positive direction that if proper government protocol is enforced based on scientific principles, it is a positive step for particular other changes, such as Paris Agreement. If everybody will understand the need of the hour, like the IPCC has already said that the global world temperature has grown by 1.1 degree Celsius at an average, we can understand that when we can achieve such a huge target of shrinking the Antarctic ozone depletion through Montreal Protocol, why not work with the same passion towards Paris Agreement.
It was in the year 1985 that it was acknowledged that we need to protect our ozone layer. Then in the year 1987 comes the Montreal protocol. Montreal Protocol is a convention which relates to the substances that deplete the Ozone layer. There was an acknowledgement in 1985, and then there was an acknowledgment about these substances in 1987. It was adopted in 1987. In 1989, it came into force. It regulates the production and consumption of nearly hundred man-made chemicals referred to as ozone depleting substances (ODS). These are the different gases which we learnt earlier. It was adopted on 15 September 1987. It is the only UN treaty that has ever been ratified by every country on Earth, i.e. all the 198 UN members. All parties have specific responsibilities related to the phasing out of the different groups of ODS, they have common but differentiated responsibility.
- Controlling the ODS trade
- Annual reporting of data
- National licensing system to control ODS imports, exports and other matters
- Developing and developed countries have equal but differentiated responsibilities
- Both groups of countries have binding, time-targeted and measurable commitments
- The meeting of the parties is the governance body.
The Multilateral Fund’s activities are implemented by four international agencies:
- UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
- UN Development Programme (UNDP)
- UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO)
- World Bank – as well as bilateral agencies of non-Article 5 countries.
Montreal Protocol contributes to the following goals:
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Gender equality
- Decent work and economic growth
These are all bound in a chain, when one sector is going in a positive manner, every other sector will be impacted in a positive way.
Kigali Amendment is the 8th amendment in the October 2016. It is legally binding, and it also has many other many other facets such as non-compliance measure. On the 28th meeting of parties 197 member countries signed the agreement to amend the Montreal Protocol. Why is it called the Kigali Amendment? Because it was signed in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. The signing countries are expected to decrease the manufacture and usage of hydro chlorofluorocarbons by about 80 to 85% from their baselines until 2045. Example CFC-12 is so important that this can last in our environment for 100 years into our atmosphere, and they have very good and very strong global warming potential, much stronger than carbon dioxide. And India has also phased out hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC-141) which is used in the farming industry.
The Kigali Amendment will curb global warming by arresting global average temperature rise to 0.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. If we completely phase out the hydrofluoro carbons by 2050, there will be a curb in the rise of the temperature by 0.5 degrees Celsius, so we can see this could work. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer entered into force on 1st January 2019 following ratification by the required number of countries. 122 countries have already ratified the Treaty, now US, China and India have also done that. To phase down the hydrofluorocarbons means by reducing its manufacturing and consumption. That means we need more innovation.
Grouping of Countries – The Kigali Agreement has divided the countries into different groups. The first group is led by the developed countries like the US and the European Union. They have to curb down their hydrofluorocarbons by 2019, and reduce the level to 15% of 2012 levels by the year 2036. The second group which consists of China, Brazil and some African developing countries, will start to phase down by 2024, and decrease it to 20% of 2021 levels by the year 2045. The third group in which India is also placed along with other countries like Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, have to phase down by 2028 and reduce the level to 15% of 2024-26 levels by the year 2047. So we have thus equal but differentiated responsibilities.
First, because India wants to become Atmanirbhar Bharat and we also have Make in India mission, what will happen to them if we do not have proper innovation? Hydrofluorocarbons are extensively used in various industries. What will be their substitute? Second, financial implications of the Kigali Amendment. Huge infrastructural needs are there for research and development on alternatives in that field. So that is going to weigh heavy on India’s financial burden specially in the COVID era.
What will happen because there will be an increase of the global temperatures in the next 10 to 20 years, so more demand will be there by the general populace for cooling applications? The general population is not very mindful of the environmental implications of such cooling appliances. They will, of course, just demand until and unless awareness is there. So what will happen with that? The manufacturing industries, if they will not get that proper cooling agent and not a sustainable substitute gas, what will happen? And because of the innovation and research and development, patent rights should also be costing a lot. How to protect them? That is also another challenge now.
The way forward is we need to invest in renewable energy sources in order to understand to supplement the decreasing hydrofluorocarbons, and of course meeting the demands of the Paris Agreement by investing hugely in renewable energy and wind infrastructure. More subsidies and more incentives should be given to startups which deal with such research and development in the field of providing substitute and sustainable gas instead of hydrofluorocarbons. Also strengthening the IPR system, how to preserve the patents, how to preserve any innovation through the help of patents across not only in India but across the globe. Generate awareness to the general populace about the ill-impacts of cooling appliances and incentivize the industries in order to have the new cooling appliances which are sustainable in nature to be sold at a lower rate, or even if not lower then at par.