Wednesday, 19 October 2016
In Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, a landmark or a momentous decision in the history of mankind was reached on 15th October, 2016 when about 200 nations of the world agreed to a legally binding deal to cut back on greenhouse gases generally used in refrigerators and air conditioners. The deal that includes world's two biggest economies, the US and China, categorises various countries into three groups with different deadlines to reduce the use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases, which can be 10,000 more powerful than carbon-dioxide. Under the agreement, developed nations, including much of Europe and the US, have committed to reducing their use of gases incrementally, starting with a ten percent cut by 2019 and reaching 85 percent by 2036 while two groups of developing countries will freeze their use of the gases by either 2024 or 2028 and then gradually reduce their use. India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and the Gulf countries have committed to meeting the later deadline. They had refused to meet the earlier deadline because they have fast expanding middle classes, wanting air conditioning in their hot climates and India also feared damaging its growing industries. The agreement was, nonetheless, greeted with applause from exhausted envoys who had worked through the night to put finishing touches to the deal. The UN environment chief, Erik Solheim, stated that "last year in Paris, we promised to keep the world safe from the worst effects of climate change. Today, we are following through on that promise." The US President, Barack Obama, said the agreement was "an ambitious and far-reaching solution to the looming crisis" of climate change while Secretary of State John Kerry described it as "a monumental step forward." Benson Ireri, a senior policy advisor at humanitarian group Christian Aid, however, remarked that "it was a shame that India and a handful of other countries chose a slower timeframe for phasing down HFCs but the bulk of nations, including China, have seen the benefits of going for a quicker reduction. It has also been encouraging to see small island states and African countries a part of higher ambitious group."