Kigali (Rwanda), Oct 15 : In a historic step towards realising the Paris Agreement on climate change, nearly 200 nations on Saturday unanimously decided global phase out of super greenhouse gases, replacing them with climate-friendly alternatives.
The heat-trapping organic compounds -- HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) are the super greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air-conditioning world over.
After night-long hectic negotiations here on the fourth day that ended early Saturday, the 28th meeting of the Parties to the 1989 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, froze the agreement to eventually eliminate the use of HFCs.
"Last year in Paris, we promised to keep the world safe from the worst effects of climate change. Today, we are following through on that promise," said UN Environment chief Erik Solheim.
According to the agreement, the A2 (developed) countries agreed to a baseline of 2011-2013 with cuts in HFCs beginning in 2019.
Whereas A5 (developing) countries agreed to two sub-groups with two different baselines. The A5 Group 2 that includes India, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq - with a baseline of 2024-2026 and a freeze date of 2028.
"This is about much more than the ozone layer and HFCs. It is a clear statement by all world leaders that the green transformation... is irreversible and unstoppable. It shows the best investments are those in clean, efficient technologies," Solheim said.
The remaining developing countries agreed on an early phase down with a baseline of 2020-2022 and a freeze date of 2024.
The scheduled phase down of HFCs will help avoid close to 70 billion tons of CO2 emission equivalent which translates into shutting down of 750 coal power plants or shutting down over half of coal power stations in China.
(Vishal Gulati is in Kigali in Rwanda to cover the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.