New Delhi: India on Tuesday set targets to phase out key gases used in cooling equipment to meet an initial deadline for cuts in six years before completely halting their use in about two decades.
These gases, known as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and used in air conditioners and refrigerators, deplete the ozone layer and are mandated to be phased out under the Montreal Protocol. The protocol, enforced in 1989, is an international agreement to phase out ozone-depleting gases.
The environment ministry announced that India will have to reduce its HCFC use by 10% by 2015 and phase them out by 2030.
“It’s a giant leap in the dark. We don’t know what technology will replace these gases. Neither do we know the funding pattern and yet developing countries like China and India have announced their roadmaps,” said environment minister Jairam Ramesh.
The consumption of HCFCs has been rising in India since the 1990s, and has more than tripled since 2001, as increasing affluence amid rapid economic growth lifted purchases of consumer goods. According to the ministry, consumption of HCFCs in India is projected to swell to 27,103 tonnes in 2015 from 3,792 in 1994.
“As of now, there are two options for the replacement of HCFCs. When any new technology comes, of course there is some cost, but we can’t really estimate how much right now. Entire plant machinery needs to be revamped but funding is available internationally,” said Pradeep Bakshi, vice-president, operations, Voltas Ltd, a maker of air conditioners and refrigerators.
This will be the second phasing out of ozone-depleting substances under the protocol. The first involved chloroflourocarbons, which have now been completely phased out. But, akin to the arguments used in the current international climate change debate, countries with low per capita consumption of these substances are entitled to technical and financial assistance, including transfer of technology, through the financial mechanism of the protocol.
A multilateral fund provides finance to convert existing manufacturing processes, training personnel, paying royalties and gaining access to patent rights on new technologies. India has received $350 million (Rs1,652 crore) till date from the $2 billion fund.