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Adhering to its global commitment, India on Monday launched the country's latest plan to phase out one of the key refrigerants, Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), under its ultimate goal to end use of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) which have harmful effects on the environment and human health.
Though the fresh plan is meant for the 2017-23 period, the final goal is to phase out consumption and manufacturing of the ozone-depleting refrigerant under an accelerated plan by 2030. HCFCs are currently used in various sectors including refrigeration, air-conditioning and foam manufacturing.
Over 190 countries had in 1987 reached an agreement under Montreal Protocol to phase out the ODS in a time-bound manner. Under the Protocol, India has already successfully phased out the earlier generation of refrigerants, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Halon. The country is currently phasing out HCFCs in a gradual manner. A multilateral fund, set up under the Protocol, has approved $44.1 million for India's HCFC management plan for the 2017-23 period. The money will be used to help industries to switch over to alternatives and train manpower. Domestic industries are, however, expected to invest in research & development (R&D) to discover clean alternatives.
"Industries must invest in R&D to carve out a niche for India at a global level. It will also create skills and generate employment", said environment minister Anil Madhav Dave after launching the latest HCFC phase-out management plan.
Addressing stakeholders including refrigerant industries' representatives, Dave recalled how India had acted pro-actively to reach a fair deal in Kigali, Rwanda in 2016 to phase out another refrigerant, hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), which is currently being used as an alternative to ODS like HCFC. He insisted that the government had worked hard to protect interests of domestic industries and it's time for industry to invest in research to develop cutting-edge technology that can be used in future.
Noting that the implementation of the plan must be forward looking, systematic and efficient, environment secretary Ajay Narayan Jha too insisted for investment in R&D and said the key attribute to the country's success in phasing out ODS was involvement of stakeholders, including industries, both at planning as well as implementation stage.
After phasing out HCFCs, the country will have to move to a next stage where it will work on to phase out HFC as per an agreement reached by it along with 195 countries in Kigali last year. Though HFC is not ODS, the countries had agreed to gradually phase it out due to its climate-damaging potential.
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