Over 200 countries have successfully negotiated a deal to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in a bid to fight climate change. The agreement was announced after discussions throughout the night in the Rwandan city of Kigali. The countries agreed to cap and reduce HFCs in a gradual process from 2019, with developed countries taking action before developing countries. HFCs are the fastest growing pollutants and are used in air conditioners and refrigerators.
It is estimated that the deal will consequently reduce the warming of the planet by half a degree. BBC have reported that richer economies will limit their use of HFCs with a cut of at least 10% from 2019. Developing countries such as China will stop their use of HFCs from 2024. Other developing countries including India, Pakistan and Iran will not stop their use until 2028. These countries pushed for this leeway citing the need for more time for their economy to grow.
This deal, is the first commitment made globally to combat climate change since the Paris Agreement. President Barack Obama praised the deal, stating it highlights ‘we can work together to leave our children a planet that is safer, more prosperous, more secure and more free than the one that was left for us’. David Doniger, climate and clean air programme director with the Natural Resources Defense Council said the agreement is ‘equal to stopping the entire world’s fossil-fuel Co2 emissions for more than two years’. These two statements convey the political and scientific importance of the deal. The science supports the political will of states and their leaders in initiating and negotiating adequate deals to promote environmental sustainability.
The lack of conviction which economies such as India, Pakistan and Iran have shown has drawn concerns about the effectiveness of the achieving the goals struck in the deal. Small island states and African countries, those most affects by the effects of climate change were particularly concerned. Hopefully political pressure, domestically and globally, will encourage state leaders and governments to implement the deal, as experts estimate that 70 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide will be removed from the atmosphere by 2050 if the agreement is to be implemented in full.
The agreement is crucial in reaching further consensus regarding climate change. The deal builds on the Paris Agreement which did not provide for measures on HFCs. It is a landmark deal which can contribute to the increased safety and security of millions of people throughout the world. Indeed, strengthened commitment from all countries can only be positive. However the start date for action of many of the world’s worst polluters is troubling. The deal would be strengthened by greater commitment from India and China in particular.