For cleaner air to breathe

Climate change is a distinct facet of modern life in the 21st century. No nation and human habitation would be left bereft of its impact.
Thus, the deal signed by 197 nations in Kigali, Rwanda, to cut back on greenhouse gases (GHG) that are used in refrigerators and air-conditioners, ought to be intelligently welcomed. The important aspect of the agreement is that it is legally binding, although it is to be seen as to how much teeth the legally binding strictures have. There is no doubt that the GHG levels as they stand are harmful to the climate and initially to the most vulnerable population across the globe, as witnessed in the case of drowning of islands in the Pacific earlier this year. The United States Secretary of State John Kerry has categorically stated that signing of the deal was “a monumental step forward”.
It indeed is monumental to use the Secretary’s chosen word, as it makes the next steps legally binding for the two largest emitters of GHGs, United States and China. The deal is innovative in its design as it divides the signatories into three groups with separate deadlines to reduce their discharge of hydroflurocarbons in the atmosphere. The science on HFCs is clear; the HFCs are multiple times more lethal than the much-chided carbon dioxide for the atmosphere and human wellbeing. Under the new pact, the developed nations would reduce their GHGs incrementally, beginning with 10 per cent reduction by 2019, followed by 85 per cent in 2036. The latter two groups would reduce their HFC emissions either by 2024 or 2028. India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Gulf nations are expected to meet the latter deadline. Burgeoning middle classes and their luxury needs in India and other nations are said to be the primary reason behind the later deadline – thus, once again laying bare the demands that humans have come to place on nature. Although diktats of climate justice are straightforward, the nations that have contributed to the rising temperatures in the first place must shoulder the burden of climate change in larger measure than the new, emerging economies.
From the lens of climate justice, blaming the growing economies and their needs is an easy way out, as the per capita emission of GHGs still remains much higher in western Europe or North America, than in India, Brazil or South Africa. The climate adaptation is another equally important feature of the deal whereby adaptive technology would be provided by the developed nations to developing and under-developed nations. Therefore, for all useful purposes, it should overcome the main criticism of the Paris Agreement: That it lacks a legally binding mechanism at its disposal. Yet, optimism ought to be restrained as the new treaty is simply an addendum to the already existing Montreal Protocol. The problem of climate change would continue to be one of the most excruciating challenges of our times.

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