Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) — India and China have reversed course
and now support efforts by the U.S. to expand a treaty to cover
a new batch of refrigerants tied to climate change, according to
participants in the talks.
The shift by the world’s two most populous nations during
talks on an accord is seen as a hopeful sign for advocates
trying to cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons. Saudi Arabia is
still leading nations that oppose expanding the scope of the
treaty, according to participants in negotiations that end
tomorrow in Paris.
“India and China have both dramatically shifted their
stance,” said Kevin Fay, executive director of a trade group
that represents manufacturers of the chemicals or products that
use the refrigerants, including Johnson Controls Inc. and DuPont
Environmental advocates say curbing HFC use is important
because the gases are more potent agents of global warming than
carbon dioxide. With the growing use of air conditioning in
developing nations such as India, phasing out HFCs has the
potential to eliminate 90 billion tons of greenhouse gases
through 2050, according to the U.S.
Fay and two environmental advocates at the meeting in Paris
described the policy change outlined by China and India, which
they attributed to agreements President Barack Obama achieved
with each country to freeze and then reduce the use of
hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.
“President Obama has set the stage for the progress” at
the meeting, said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for
Governance & Sustainable Development who is participating in the
meeting and confirmed the shift in position of China and India.
Messages left with the press offices of the Indian and
Saudi embassies in Washington weren’t immediately returned.
North American governments, the European Union and island
nations at risk from rising seas because of global warming have
each proposed separate plans to decrease the use of HFCs under
the so-called Montreal Protocol signed in 1987 to phase out
chlorofluorocarbons. CFCs were blamed for punching a hole in the
ozone layer, and the treaty to cut their use was hailed as a
rare success in fighting environmental risk. The use of CFCs has
been cut 98 percent, as HFCs were used as a replacement.
“Because those markets are growing so fast, if the HFCs
aren’t nipped in the bud, they will undue all the positive
effects of the Montreal Protocol by 2050,” David Doniger, the
head of climate programs at the Natural Resources Defense
Council, said by telephone from Paris.
Using the Montreal Protocol would bypass slow-moving United
Nations climate talks, which often deadlock on unrelated issues
and focus on the most prevalent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.
The gases are made by companies including Dupont and Honeywell
International Inc. in a $4 billion global refrigerant industry.
“We think we can do this under the right circumstances,”
said Fay, whose group is called the Alliance for Responsible
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Jon Morgan at