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India reclaiming global leadership on climate change

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008 and its target to reduce energy intensity, he was hailed as a global leader for taking bold steps to address the issue. More recently, India has received a wake-up call from climate-driven tragedies such as the floods in Uttarakhand and the dire droughts of 2012 and and Manmohan Singh is once again returning to a leadership role.

Earlier this month, the Indian prime minister joined Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Barack Obama and the other G-20 leaders to support ‘full implementation of the agreed outcomes under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’ and its ongoing negotiations towards a new UN climate treaty by 2015. India and the other G20 leaders also agreed to support ‘operationalisation of the Green Climate Fund’ and to ‘support... using the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)...,’ leaving HFCs within the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for ‘accounting and reporting of emissions.’
There are many benefits to India from supporting the Montreal Protocol strategy. First, with India’s leadership, it will now be possible to quickly complete the consensus to phase out HFCs, providing the world with significant near-term climate protection through a treaty that never fails. The HFC phase down will avoid the equivalent of 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 and up to 0.5° C of warming by the end of the century. Second, the HFC amendment will catalyse improvements in the energy efficiency of refrigerators, air conditioners (both stationary and in vehicles), and other equipment using HFCs as refrigerants.

This means using less electricity to operate refrigerators and air conditioners, which means lower fossil fuel use and lower carbon dioxide emissions, giving this strategy a double climate benefit. These efficiency gains will save money for consumers and reduce India’s import burden of fossil fuels and the current account deficit, a key parameter for India’s recent financial crisis. Third, the HFC amendment will reaffirm the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ for climate protection. This is a central principle for India and indeed all developing countries during all climate negotiations. Simply put, this principle means that all countries must do their part to solve climate change – our common responsibility – but that some have greater responsibility and capabilities to do more, sooner – the differentiated responsibility.

This year India is reclaiming its rightful place as a leader among nations for the essential task of protecting our common climate and the future of humanity. IANS
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