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 protection.
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 favor 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.