KIGALI Oct 14 U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry said on Friday that nations were working towards reaching
a global deal this weekend on cutting greenhouse gases used in
refrigerators, as he prepared for a potentially decisive meeting
with India's environment minister.
Kerry arrived in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Thursday to
help close the deal among about 150 nations to phase down
factory-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases, also used in air
conditioners. If successful, it would be the third global
climate deal this month.
A quick phase-down of HFCs could be a major contribution to
slowing climate change, avoiding perhaps 0.5 degrees Celsius
(0.9 Fahrenheit) of a projected rise in average temperatures by
2100, scientists say.
Asked whether a deal was likely, Kerry told reporters:
"We're here to work for one."
"We'll see what happens," he added as he started a meeting
with Zhai Qing, China's deputy minister of environmental
India in particular is under pressure to speed up its plans
for cutting HFCs. India's government wants a peak in poor
nations' rising emissions only in 2031 to give industries time
to adapt. More than 100 nations including the United States, the
European Union and African states favour a peak in 2021.
Kerry was due to meet India's Environment Minister Anil
Madhav Dave later on Friday.
Environmental groups have called for an ambitious agreement
on cutting HFCs to limit the damage from an expected 1.6 billion
new air conditioning units expected to come on stream by 2050.
An HFC accord would add to the Paris Agreement on limiting
global temperatures rises clinched in December, and which came
into force this month, and a deal to limit emissions from
aviation clinched in October.
The HFC talks are part of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which
succeeded in cutting the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to
help protect the ozone layer, which shields the planet from
ultraviolet rays that can cause skin cancer.
U.S. officials, speaking before Kerry's visit, said they
were optimistic a deal could be reached and called for an
ambitious Montreal Protocol amendment.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Edmund Blair)