This article is written by Monesh Mehndiratta, a law student at Graphic Era Hill University, Dehradun. This article provides the need, historical background and features of the Kigali Amendment. It further describes the position in India along with its impact.
This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.
The Kigali Amendment is an amendment made to the Montreal Protocol, which is an international agreement focusing on the issue of depletion of the ozone layer. After coming into force in 1998, the Montreal Protocol has gone through various changes and amendments. The Kigali Amendment was the 8th such amendment in the agreement and came into force on 1st January 2019. Since the agreement of the amendment was signed in Kigali, which is the capital of Rwanda, the agreement and hence the amendment were named so. The purpose of the amendment was to focus on the reduction in the consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs). In this article, we are going to discuss the background of the amendment, its features, impact, and position in the country.
The Montreal Protocol
It is a multilateral agreement aimed at a reduction in the substances that lead to ozone depletion and the preservation of the ozone layer. The ozone layer is a layer in the stratosphere of Earth and controls the UV rays from entering the surface. However, there has been a hole in this layer, which has damaged it, and as a result, harmful UV rays are entering the surface. The substances that increase ozone depletion are known as ozone-depleting substances (ODS). These include halons, chlorofluorocarbons, carbon tetrachloride, etc.
The scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica and said that the gases and chemical substances used in refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosols, etc. have resulted in the hole through which ultraviolet radiation, or UV rays, enter the atmosphere of Earth and reach people. This causes skin diseases and cancer.
The United Nations and its member countries realized the need to control such substances and preserve the ozone layer from depleting. They signed the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985, as a result of which the countries decided to adopt and adhere to the Montreal Protocol, which banned such substances from being used. Every country that decided to be a member of such a convention had to follow the protocol.
Features of the Montreal protocol
- The objective of the protocol is to reduce the consumption of ODS in a specified period to achieve the goal of the preservation of the ozone layer from further depletion.
- It gives different rules and regulations along with different periods for developed and developing countries.
- The members of the protocol include all the countries in the United Nations and European Union.
- Countries in both groups are bound by the protocol and commitments.
- The parties to the protocol, the governance body, and the technical group meet once a year to discuss the success, impact and loopholes of the protocol.
- It is the first protocol to be ratified by all the countries of the world and members of the United Nations.
- Ozone Secretariat is the highest authority with its office in the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) located in Nairobi.
- The important provisions of the protocol are as follows:
- Article 2 deals with the controlling measures that every country needs to follow.
- Article 3 deals with the calculation and impacts of control measures.
- Article 5 mentions the situation in developing countries. India is a party to this treaty under Article 5.
- Article 7 places an obligation to report the necessary data.
- Article 8 deals with the conditions and consequences of non-compliance.
- Article 10 provides the technical assistance and multilateral funds to successfully apply and follow all the rules and measures.
- Following are the substances that have been banned and recognized as ODS in the protocol:
- It has undergone a lot of amendments and revisions.
Member countries of the Montreal Protocol
As per the reports, 197 countries are members of the protocol. Some of these countries that have successfully phased down the production and consumption of ODS (like halons, chloro fluoro carbons, carbon tetrachloride, etc.) and implemented the protocol are:
- Central African Republic
- Costa Rica
- European Union
The Kigali Amendment
With the ratification of the Montreal Protocol, various substances falling under the category of ozone-depleting substances were recognized and banned. This increased the usage of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, as a replacement for chlorofluorocarbons in refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosols, etc. HFCs are another kind of organochlorine compound which are manufactured as CFCs and were used as their alternative. They do not have any role to play in the depletion of the ozone layer, which results in global warming. It was discovered that the HFC is a major greenhouse gas which results in global warming and increases the temperature of the earth quickly. Thus, it was necessary to curb its usage in order to protect people from global warming and harmful UV rays.
This need was felt by the United Nations, and so the meetings of the parties were conducted. In 2016, 197 countries in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, decided to sign an agreement to amend the Montreal Protocol and insert HFCs in the category of ODS. As a result, it came into effect on 1st January 2019. The objective of the amendment was to reduce the consumption of HFCs and decrease it by 80-85% until 2045. This will limit the rise in temperature by 0.5 degrees Celsius till 2100. It also reduces and controls global warming and its consequences for living beings. Its importance can also be realized from another treaty, the Paris Agreement, which also focuses on limiting the use of greenhouse gases and their effects.
Scope of the Kigali Amendment
- It is a binding agreement which means that all the countries who have signed or ratified the agreement are bound to adhere to all the rules and regulations laid down in it.
- The countries are expected to fulfill and accomplish their targets as provided under the agreement.
- Once a country has ratified the agreement. It assumes legal obligations as the intention of the agreement is to create rights and obligations in international law.
- The agreement also supports technologies and substances that are used as an alternative to ODS and are cost effective and environmentally friendly.
- As per the reports and data of 2022, 136 countries have ratified the Kigali amendment.
Features of the Kigali Amendment
- It is an agreement that is binding on all the countries that ratified it. In the case of non-compliance, there are measures that such countries need to follow.
- It provides different targets for different countries depending upon their nature, whether they are developed or developing.
- It takes into consideration the varying situations, technological and scientific approaches, types of machineries and economy of the country while deciding the target.
- It works on the principle of common and equal but differentiated responsibilities to be given to every country. This is similar to that followed by the Montreal Protocol.
- The multilateral funds have been kept and provided to all the countries belonging to different categories to mitigate and adapt to the amendment as per the needs of their countries.
- The review of all the technologies, success, and impact of the amendment, along with the products and their energy, will be conducted by the Technology and Energy Assessment Panel (TNEP).
- The scope of the amendment extends to all the countries that have signed the amendment and are part of the groups created in the amendment.
Actions taken to control the depletion of the ozone layer
In order to decrease the production and consumption of substances leading to the depletion of the ozone layer, the amendment divided the countries into 3 groups and gave them a target to come up with alternative technology and substances but stopped using ODS. The countries are divided as:
- Group 1 – consists of developed countries like the European Union countries and countries led by the US. The phasedown for this group had to start by 2019 and reduce 15% of the total consumption by 2036.
- Group 2 – it consists of developing countries like China, Brazil, etc. which will start the phasedown by 2024 and reduce their consumption by 20% till 2045.
- Group 3 – it also consists of developing countries, but these are the hottest areas, and so the phase down will start by 2028 to reduce consumption by 15% till 2047. The countries included in this category are Pakistan, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc.
It has also set up TNEP to test all the alternative technologies and substances suggested by the countries before their production and usage. Also, the executive committee has been asked to provide the guidelines in order to finance the phase down of production and consumption of HFCs, and countries will be helped by way of extra financial support.
Significance of the Kigali Amendment
- It provides a clear and definite timeline for every country to meet their target.
- It helps in preventing the consumption and manufacturing of HFCs.
- The greatest significance of the Kigali Amendment lies in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
It is a result of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and a multilateral agreement signed in order to reduce greenhouse gases to reduce global warming and prevent unnecessary change in the climate due to man-made reasons. The agreement was signed on 22 April 2016 by 195 countries that are members of the UNFCCC. The objective of this agreement is to reduce the rise in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and develop the strategy and mechanism to support countries with adverse climatic conditions having a bad impact on the health of their people and other living beings. The agreement also puts an obligation on the developed countries to offer a helping hand to their neighbouring countries and other developing countries in terms of finance or technology.
The agreement provides that the emission of carbon dioxide be reduced to 20% along with a 20% reduction in market shares of renewable energy. After 5 years, various countries have submitted their reports and data as to the implementation and effect of the Paris agreement. It can be seen that China has the highest percentage of greenhouse gases and did not adhere to the agreement followed by the United States of America. Despite the Kigali agreement, which plays a major role in implementing the Paris agreement as it provides the mechanism, targets, and strategies to be used by the countries in order to control greenhouse gases and their effects, only a few countries have complied with all the terms of the agreement. These are India, Bhutan, Philippines, Ethiopia, Morocco, etc.
Position of the Kigali Amendment in India
The cabinet under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the ratification of the Kigali Amendment, adopted at the 28th meeting of the parties in 2016. It was decided to implement all the strategies by 2023, after discussing them with the necessary stakeholders. It was concluded that India would proceed with the phase down in 4 steps:
- 10% reduction in consumption of HFCs by 2013,
- 20% reduction in 2037,
- 30% reduction by 2042 &
- 85% reduction by 2047.
The strategies and the schemes to achieve the target will be implemented together with other ongoing schemes of the government with a view to maximizing the socio-economic gains apart from environmental gains. The aim of the government is to opt for alternatives to HFCs and other non-HFCs products to be manufactured by great minds. This will also help in the employment and recognition of various inventions and developments made in this regard by the future scientists and great minds of the country as it promotes domestic innovation.
India has also signed the Paris Agreement, which is related to the Kigali Amendment as both focus on similar issues to resolve the problem of greenhouse effects and reduce global warming. It has followed all the terms and conditions of the agreement and has taken various measures in this regard. Some of these are:
- National solar mission – this aims at promoting the ecologically sustainable growth of the country and addresses the problem of energy security in the country.
- Bharat Stage (BS) VI norms – the government has given specific standards to control the emissions of harmful gases in order to check and control air pollution in the country.
- National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy 2018 – the purpose of this policy is to build wind-solar hybrid systems to convert the energy into an effective source so that it can be efficiently utilized.
The Kigali Amendment has made a positive impact on the country and its workers, especially in the industrial sector, which is majorly responsible for emitting harmful gases through chimneys. The regulations and the strategies opted by the Indian government to control the production of HFCs have restricted industries from using such substances in their products. Moreover, this agreement paved the way for new innovations and creations and helped young minds showcase their potential in finding alternatives to such harmful substances.
The current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, also announced the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan in the country to encourage the citizens and young minds to become independent and self-reliant. He is helping them to work on new innovations by way of funds if it is useful. This campaign has further helped in achieving the goals set out in the Kigali Agreement because the young scientists are motivated to find ways and technologies to develop alternatives to ODS and produce such alternatives. Thus, these measures and others help in controlling and reducing the consumption of such gases, which increase the greenhouse effect and global warming, leading to unnecessary heating of the earth’s surface.
Impact and global aspects of the Kigali Amendment
The Kigali Amendment had a huge impact on the production of ozone-depletion substances as it completely banned such products and also gave various other measures to be followed by every country that has signed the amendment. The countries have been given a period during which they have to accomplish their targets of reducing the consumption of such substances and come up with other alternatives. One such alternative that was used by the countries was HFCs, which was later found to be harmful for the environment and hence, banned by the amendment.
After the enforcement of the agreement, many countries that were already facing the issues due to global warming and greenhouse effect had immediately ratified it. But the major countries, like China, the USA, India, etc., did not do so. They gradually and slowly realized the importance of controlling global warming and, hence, ratified it. Currently, the member countries are satisfied with the agreement and are working to accomplish their respective targets. But the major drawback is that they are finding it difficult in coming up with different strategies and substances in place of those that have been banned. The various committees of UNEP are trying their best and working towards collecting the data about the implementation of the agreement and also helping the member countries by funding them financially.
However, it also provides the opportunity for scientists and manufacturing companies to innovate and invent other substances in place of those that have been banned from being used as coolants in refrigerators and air conditioners. As a consequence, scientists suggest that hydrofluoro olefins can serve the purpose of being used as an alternative in refrigerators and air conditioners. Thus, it can be said that the agreement has made various countries conscious of the environment and its protection.
The Kigali Amendment has been successful in cutting down on the production and consumption of HFCs, which are tested as harmful for the environment as they increase global warming and greenhouse effects. But even this amendment faces certain challenges. The three main challenges that need to be addressed in the Kigali Amendment as soon as possible are:
- Some countries have failed to accurately collect the data and statistics about the estimation of production and consumption of HFCs. These products are easily manufactured, so companies prefer them. Due to corruption, companies indulge in illegal manufacturing as the substances are banned from being used and manufactured in each country. With inaccurate estimation, the target set by the agreement is not accomplished.
- Another challenge is to meet the needs of alternative substances to be used as coolants. The agreement has paved the way for new alternatives to be used in refrigerators and air conditioners. Manufacturing companies find it difficult to come up with such alternatives and technologies. Scientists are trying to find the solution and have suggested hydrofluoro olefins (HFOs) be used in place of HFCs after their successful testing and verification.
- One of the major concerns of countries is the funds to develop the technology for the production of such alternatives. The Executive Committee and other funding committees of UNEP are helping the countries to solve this problem. But this still serves as the major challenge in the successful implementation of the agreement.
The Kigali Amendment was made in order to fulfill the urgency of having a mechanism to reduce the HFCs, which were used as an alternative to other ozone-depleting substances. Though it is not one of those substances, it contributes to global warming by increasing the effect of greenhouse gases. The United Nations felt the need for the amendment as a result of which it was passed at the 28th meeting of the members in 2016 in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, and was named so. This amendment recognised HFCs as ODS under Annex F of the Montreal Protocol, which means that no country can now manufacture or use them in any form. The amendment has played a major role in the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement which has similar objectives. Thus, it can be concluded that the amendment was the need of the hour and, because of this, the countries are under a check not to use any of the banned substances and complete the target in order to make the environment healthy.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Is the Montreal Protocol legally binding?
The protocol as universally ratified has a time-bound binding framework, which makes it a binding agreement.
What is the impact of the Montreal Protocol on India?
It is a multilateral agreement aimed at a reduction in the substances that lead to ozone depletion and the preservation of the ozone layer. Article 5 of the protocol recognises India as one of its signatories, and so multilateral funds are given to fulfil the purpose. In India, its implementation is seen and checked by the Ministry of Forests, climate change and environment. It has also established Ozone cells and passed the Ozone Depleting Substances (Rules and Regulations), 2000, making it clear that India is working to accomplish all the objectives of the protocol.
What is the Kigali Amendment and how many countries have ratified it?
The Kigali Amendment is an amendment made in the Montreal Protocol to focus on the reduction in the consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs). As per the reports in 2017, currently, 121 countries and countries belonging to the European Union have ratified the amendment, which includes India.
What are the implications of the amendment?
The industries in India have to try and find substitutes for HFCs and invest in R&D. They can also opt to buy the technologies and patented substances of other companies who have been able to find alternatives to such substances, for example, hydro fluoro olefins (HFOs). This will also force industries and companies to use eco-friendly materials in the production of their goods and products, making them environmentally friendly. However, the negative impact is that there will be an increase in the production cost of the product as a result of which the buyer has to suffer.
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