In a significant change of stand, India today did not oppose the discussion on the issue of harmful greenhouse gas hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the UN Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances.
The change in Indian stand comes in the wake of a joint statement on HFCs signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama on September 30 this year under which both the nations had agreed to discuss the harmful greenhouse gas under Montreal Protocol.
HFCs were introduced as a substitute to ozone-depleting hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs).
India had been arguing till recently in the global platforms that the Montreal Protocol is a specific treaty for phasing out production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances.
Indian officials in the Ministry of Environment and Forests had opposed the proposed amendments to discuss HFCs, which are not ozone-depleting substances.
On the opening day of a key conference on Montreal Protocol here, Indian representatives headed by A Duraisamy remained silent when the co-chair introduced the agenda and asked for its adoption.
However, the west Asian countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain raised protests, saying “we do not agree with this proposal”. They demanded that the proposed amendment be removed from the agenda.
But the US and the European Union said that “amendments were filed in the due process” and strongly recommended that the item be kept on the agenda.
Last year, India had led countries including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the conference on Montreal Protocol to demand that the agenda item on HFCs be deleted from discussion under the platform.
India had taken such a stance, despite a statement signed by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Obama on HFCs. Interestingly, both Manmohan-Obama and Modi-Obama statements are almost identical.