By Elias Hakizimana.
Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol which has to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that contribute to global warming has entered into force.
HFCs used mainly in refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment and are thousands of times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide – CO2.
This historic environmental milestone is the single most impactful step the world has taken to limit Climate Change and will avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100.
So far ,the ministry of environment announced via twitter that 65 countries have already ratified to the agreement which will see global nations gradually reduce global-warming-inducing HFCs more than by 80 per cent over the next 30 years.
Back in the 1920’s, coolants and fridges were discovered to be very toxic, causing severe health complications to humans. CFCs were the solution to address this, but decades later, CFCs were also found to be the root cause of a hole in the stratosphere- commonly referred to as the ozone hole.
The ozone layer is the natural shield against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, which can cause severe health risks such as skins cancers. This damage to the ozone layer prompted governments to moot an environmental agreement to govern the production and use of harmful substances that damage the ozone.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was designed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere, and thereby protect the earth’s fragile ozone Layer. The protocol was agreed on September 16th in 1987 and entered into force on January 1st in 1989.
In Kigali, delegates worked tirelessly day and night to negotiate and reach a deal on a timetable that would mandate countries to phase down the production and usage of hydroflourocarbons (HFCs). Following seven years of continuous consultations, Parties to the Montreal Protocol struck a landmark legally binding deal to reduce the emissions of powerful greenhouse gases in a move that could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.
The 2015 Africa Adaptation Gap Report observes that for a below 20C global warming scenario the agriculture sector will be hit by up to 40% yield declines, and result in a 25 – 90% increase in incidences of undernourishment putting 50% of Africa’s population under risk of undernourishment, not to mention massive economic losses given that the sector employs up to 64 per cent labor and contributes up to 34 per cent to GDP on average.
Environmental experts note that the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer could be the single largest real contribution the world has made so far towards keeping the global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed at the Paris climate conference last year; this amendment is a huge step forward to achieving that target.
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