India, steering the negotiations on the Montreal Protocol for amendment of phase down of HFCs at Kigali, Rwanda, has again taken the lead on the climate issues. Minister of State Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Anil Madhav Dave, has given the go-ahead for releasing the order for incinerating the HFC-23 by producers of HCFC-22 gas.
HFC-23 gas, a potent greenhouse gas, with Global Warming Potential of 14800, is produced as a by-product of HCFC-22 manufacturing, and if vented out in environment, is a threat to the environment.
Now, the companies would have to internalize the cost of this environmental externality and create sufficient storage facility to take care of down time and run the incinerators to ensure that HFC-23 is not released in the atmosphere.
It is noted that some HCFC-22 producers, even in the developed world, are not handling the HFC-23 in the most professional manner.
Significance of the Incineration of HFC-23
This decision of India, at this juncture, fortifies the determination and commitment of the country on climate issues. This will have a positive impact on the discussions on HFCs and will make the Governments and producers of HCFC-22 in both, developed and developing countries think on emulating this practice.
It is now hard for the teams from the countries which are producers of HCFC-22 to negotiate for funding from the Multilateral Fund (MLF), for creating a facility for incineration or financial support for incinerating the gas.
Still, it remains a fact that even with the complete phase-out of HCFCs for usage as refrigerants under the Montreal Protocol, its production still continues for feedstock purposes. This production for feedstock purpose will reach 1 million tonnes at its peak.
Ensuring the incineration of HFC-23 being produced as by-product will ensure an avoidance of more than 444 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent globally.
This is a major break away from the concept of financial assistance for every action on environment, in which India has taken the lead.