Almost 200 countries struck a deal to amend the Montreal Protocol to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), predicting the reduced emissions could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming. HFCs are described as the world's fastest-growing climate pollutant and are used in air conditioners and refrigerators.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the deal was "a monumental step forward" as he left the talks in the Rwandan capital of Kigali late on Friday.
During last week's 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP2), there were rigorous negotiations between the biggest consumers/producer countries of unpopular HFCs against the least consumers of HFCs as well as some developed countries-which have also come up with the latest technology, which is less harmful to the climate.
On Saturday 170 nations agreed to cut HFCs in three tracks, with the richest countries including the U.S. and European Union freezing production and consumption of HFCs by 2018, reducing them to about 15 percent of 2012 levels by 2036, the New York Times reports.
To put it into context, HFCs are thousands of times more potent than, carbon dioxide. As with the Paris Agreement on climate change, which is strengthened by the Kigali amendments, developing countries will legitimately expect rich countries to aid them as they seek to acquire green technologies for industrial use. "It is a clear statement by all world leaders that the green transformation started in Paris is irreversible and unstoppable", said United Nations environment programme executive director Erik Solheim.
Most of the rest of the world including China, Africa and Brazil will freeze HFC use by 2024, reducing it to 20 percent of 2021 levels by 2045. India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the Gulf countries will meet the later deadline.
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Honeywell began developing HFC alternatives in 2000 and has invested $500 million to date, a company spokesman told Reuters. Greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry now total about as much as those of Germany, not a small amount, and experts say that sum will grow as the world becomes even more mobile.
He added: "It was a shame that India and a handful of other countries chose a slower time frame for phasing down HFCs but the bulk of nations, including China, have seen the benefits of going for a quicker reduction".
The ozone layer has been healing for a while, thanks to the global agreement known as the Montreal Protocol.
He said: "This was the first real test faced by nations since they committed to limiting global warming in the Paris Agreement. That is what has happened with previous targets agreed at the Montreal Protocol so hopefully that happens again".
This agreement gets about 90 per cent of the way there, said Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development president Durwood Zaelke.