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Major agreement reached to phase down greenhouse gases

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Almost 200 of the world's nations have reached a historic agreement to reduce greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners; a major step in the fight against climate change.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have welcomed the landmark deal struck today by almost 200 countries to reduce the emissions of potent chemicals used in air conditioners and refrigerators - a move that could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century.

Over 190 countries agreed on a new global climate deal at Paris in December previous year where they agreed to cut down global greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to well below 2 degree Celsius over pre-industrial times and limit it to 1.5 degree Celsius over pre-industrial times.

US President Barack Obama called the deal - announced yesterday morning after all-night negotiations in Rwanda - "an ambitious and far-reaching solution to this looming crisis".

More than 100 developing countries, including China, will freeze their use fo the gas and start taking reducing it in 2024.

"The deal will avoid 0.5C of global warming by the end of this century. In due course, new innovations and products will allow us to phase out HFCs even faster, and at lower cost", Kagame said.

Developed countries have also agreed to provide enhanced funding support to developing countries.

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HFCs, used in refrigerators and air conditioners, were introduced in the 1990s to replace chemicals that had been found to erode the ozone layer, but turned out to be catastrophic.

He said. "This is the biggest step we can take in the year to after the Paris Agreement against the widening threats from climate change".

CFCs were a primary cause of the hole in Earth's ozone and were eventually banned under the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

The agreement in Kigali, Rwanda comes only days after the Paris Agreement on climate change, which calls for the world to become carbon neutral this century, became an worldwide law.

A few states, such as India and Pakistan, agreed to slower HFC deadlines. "Today, we are following through on that promise", said UNEP chief Erik Solheim.

HFCs - though they are greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide - are not dealt with under the Paris Agreement but under the Montreal Protocol.

But while HFCs have often been portrayed in a misleading light as "environmentally friendly" because they do not deplete the ozone layer, they could actually be reversing the hard work done by the worldwide community to improve the environment.

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