Bureaucracy 'killed' Indo-US statement on HFCs: Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi, Nov 2: Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday sought to blame the bureaucracy in the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the lack of progress on the issue of harmful greenhouse gas hydrofluorocarbons despite a statement signed with the US.

"Manmohan Singh and Barack Obama signed a joint statement on September 27, 2013. Narendra Modi and Obama signed a joint statement on September 30, 2014. On HFCs, both statements are identical. So, now, there is political consensus that India must change its position on HFCs," he said.

But the Rajya Sabha MP expressed hope that the statement on HFCs signed between Modi and Obama would not get the same treatment from the bureaucracy.

"The MoEF bureaucracy killed Singh's statement. Hopefully, Modi's statement will not get the same treatment," Ramesh, the newly-appointed chair of Future Earth Engagement Committee -- a global research platform panel on sustainable development -- told PTI today.

Ahead of a key conference on Montreal Protocol in Paris this month, he said India must change its position on HFCs and agree to start negotiations for a global phase down, not phase out, of the gas used in refrigerators and air conditions as a solution to Ozone Layer Depletion. Jayanthi Natarajan was the environment minister in September last year, when the joint statement was signed.

She was replaced in December by M Veerappa Moily. Ramesh hoped the statement signed between Modi and Obama on the matter would "drop" India's "obstructionist stance" and that negotiations on HFCs would start soon. India has been preventing a move to establish a "contact group" under the Montreal Protocol as it argues that alternative technologies to replace HFCs are expensive and their proprietary rights lie with American multinationals which hold patents to hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and are pushing it as a replacement to HFCs.

"India must agree to a contact group under the Montreal Protocol for a phase down of HFCs... Last year, China agreed. Now India must agree... We have to do something urgently on HFCs. It is a low-hanging fruit," he said. 


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