Deal signed to reduce greenhouse gases

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 18, 2016
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It was indeed a historic day. Nearly 200 nations thrashed out a deal to reduce the gases considered as lethal for the environment through increasing the danger of global warming.

The agreement reached in Kigali, Rwanda, over the weekend is a major step in tackling climate change. The reason is simple. The world has agreed on binding cuts on the Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases used in air conditioners, refrigerators and aerosol sprays.

The importance of this is that HFCs are 10,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as far as the greenhouse effect is concerned.

The agreement is also important because the biggest world economies - the United States and China - agreed to voluntarily reduce the use of the gases that are contributing so much to the warming of our atmosphere.

It was hard deal to achieve. Compromises were surely needed to pacify various national interests. For example, it is not one-size-fit-all kind of agreement. In fact, countries have been divided into groups with different target dates to comply with commitments to reduce the use of factory-made HFC.

The sticking point was the role of industrialized world in taking the lead to reduce their use. Under the agreement, the U.S. and European countries will reduce them incrementally. They will start with a 10 percent reduction in 2019, scaling up to 85 percent by 2036.

The developing countries have been divided into two groups and they will freeze the level of use of the gases by either 2024 or 2028; then, they will gradually reduce their usage.

China, along with some Latin American nations and island states, will have to meet the 2024 target mentioned above. But the deadline for freezing the HFC for other nations like India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the Gulf countries will start from 2028.

The agreement is being hailed as a huge contribution to saving the environment. According to various experts, the full implementation of the agreement will remove an amount equal to 70 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050.

The Kigali agreement comes months after the Paris agreement last December that dealt with ways to control the rise of global temperatures. The new agreement coincides with the Paris deal having finally passed the required threshold to enter into force after several big nations, also known as the biggest polluters, ratified it.

The Paris and Kigali agreements should go a long way towards making the globe safer by keeping the global temperature within safer limits. As we know, the temperature has been rising due to increased industrial activities. Experts and scientists have for some time been warning that we face sure disaster unless the situation is drastically controlled and soon.

The direct result of global warming is that glaciers will melt and sea level will rise which will drown some island states in particular. It would create an unimaginable human disaster with millions of people uprooted. Nobody knows where they will live after such a disaster.

However, even before that happens, living condition on Earth will become intolerable due to rising temperatures. Weather patterns will be more unpredictable and crops, fruits and vegetables production will be affected.

The Kigali agreement is expected to directly play a role in checking global warming. According to scientists, it will help to avoid a 0.5 degrees' Celsius rise in temperature by 2100. It will be possible as millions of new units of fridges, air conditioners and sprays will be HFC-free.

The hurdles in achieving the goals are lack of availability of new technology and financial resources for underdeveloped nations. The developed world has to shoulder the responsibility of helping poor nations to transform and shift their industries to avoid use of HFCs.

Another hurdle involves implementation. As countries are free, they cannot be forced to follow an international agreement. This is especially so, if a country is a leading economic or military power.

Only good intentions and a resolve to save humanity count. So, all nations should meticulously follow the commitments made to ensure the agreement will work.

Successfully saving the environment will be the biggest gift for the coming generations.

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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