About 150 nations meeting in Rwanda agreed the deal to reduce greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners, a Rwandan minister announced to loud cheers on Saturday.
During talks in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, countries agreed to incrementally reduce the use of HFC gases, which are commonly found in home appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners and aerosol cans.
"The amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer endorsed in Kigali today is the single largest contribution the world has made towards keeping the global temperature rise "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed at the Paris climate conference a year ago", the United Nations agency said in a statement Saturday. The other countries are divided into two groups that have 2024 (China, for example) or 2028 (India and Pakistan) as the deadline to begin gradually reducing the use of HFCs.
Under the agreement, developed countries will reduce HFC use first, followed by China along with a large number of countries; India and nine other countries of South and West Asia will follow suit. A number of small island states along with African nations, who are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change urged that action be taken as soon as possible.
That effort cost $3.5 billion over 25 years, said Stephen Olivier Andersen, the director of research at Washington-based think tank Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Scientists say this is important to the goal of last year's Paris Agreement to hold global temperature rise below 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100.
The new agreement is "equal to stopping the entire world's fossil-fuel Carbon dioxide emissions for more than two years", said Natural Resources Defence Council climate and clean air programme director David Doniger. HFCs are significant greenhouse gas contributors that are used in refrigeration and air conditioning.
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As per Saturday's agreement in Kigali, all countries are in one of three groups with different timelines to go about these reductions.
HFCs were introduced in the 1980s as a substitute for ozone-depleting gases.
The major cause of debate was how fast to phase out HFCs.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a family of greenhouse gases that are largely used in refrigerants in home and auto air-conditioners.
Scientific research has shown that HFC gases are thousands of times more destructive to the climate than carbon dioxide, and their growing use threatens to undermine the Paris Agreement.
The Montreal Protocol was agreed on in 1987 and entered into force in 1989 to phase out the production and use of man-made substances contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer.