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Modi Joins Obama for Fast Implementation of Paris Agreement


Leaders agree to make down payment by cutting HFCs under Montreal Protocol

7 June 2016, Washington, DC - Today Prime Minister Modi and President Obama took another big step forward as partners in the battle to slow climate change, when India agreed to join the climate deal negotiated in Paris last December to bring it into force before President Obama leaves office January 20th next year.  Early entry into force will make it more difficult for any subsequent president to reverse the Paris Agreement.

The two leaders, who have developed a strong partnership based on mutual respect and shared concerns during their seven meetings, also agreed to work together to phase down short-lived super climate pollutants called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, by amending the Montreal Protocol this year. This treaty has already successfully stopped the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer.

“The HFC phase down is the single biggest down payment on the Paris pledge” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.

The phase down will avoid the equivalent of up to 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide in emissions by 2050, and up to 0.5°C (0.9°F) of warming by 2100.  This represents about 10 percent of the mitigation needed to keep warming to no more than 2°C above pre-Industrial levels.

Zaelke added, “Parallel efforts to improve the energy efficiency of air conditioners during the switch out of HFC refrigerants can double the climate benefits of the HFC phase down, avoiding 200 or more billion tons of CO2 equivalent by 2050.”

There are currently 900 million air conditioners, growing to 2.5 billion or more by 2050.  Improving energy efficiency by a modest 30% can save enough energy in India to avoid up to 142 medium-size peak power plants by 2030. These are the least efficient and most polluting plants, running on dirty diesel, which emits CO2 and black carbon particulate pollution.

Andrew Freedman reporting in Mashable.com writes that the Modi-Obama HFC agreement includes “an ambitious phase down schedule,” as well as additional funding from developed countries to help developing countries with implementation.

“Knowing the president will be leaving in January means the two leaders need to accelerate action on climate that benefits them both,” Zaelke added.  “Their friendship surely will endure, but their partnership as the leaders of the two biggest democracies inevitably must end.”

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here.