Adhering to its global commitment, India on Monday launched the country's latest plan to phase-out one of the key refrigerants - Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) - under its ultimate goal to end use of harmful ozone-depleting substances (ODS) by switching over to non-ozone depleting and low global warming potential technologies.

Though the fresh plan is meant for the 2017-23 period, the final goal is to phase out consumption and manufacturing of this ozone-depleting refrigerant under an accelerated plan by 2030. The HCFC is currently used in various sectors including refrigeration, air-conditioning and foam manufacturing.

Over 190 countries had in 1987 reached an agreement under Montreal Protocol to phase out the ODS in a time-bound manner. Under the Protocol, India has already successfully phased out the earlier generation of refrigerants, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Halon. The country is currently phasing out the HCFC in a gradual manner.

Noting that the implementation of the plan must be forward looking, systematic and efficient, environment secretary Ajay Narayan Jha too insisted for investment in R&D and said key attribute to the country's success in phasing out ODS was involvement of stakeholders, including industries, both at planning as well as implementation stage.

After phasing out HCFC, the country will have to move to a next stage where it will work on to phase out HFC as per an agreement reached by it along with 195 countries in Kigali last year. Though HFC is not ODS, the countries had agreed to gradually phase it out due to its climate-damaging potential. India has, however, a lenient schedule to phase out HFC. It will have to cut use of HFC by 85% by 2047 over the 2024-2026 level (baseline).


A multilateral fund, set up under the Protocol, has approved USD 44.1 million for India's HCFC management plan for the 2017-23 period. The money will be used to help industries to switch over to alternatives and train manpower. Domestic industries are, however, expected to invest in research & development (R&D) to find out clean alternatives.

"Industries must invest in R&D to carve out a niche for India at a global level. It will also create skills and generate employment", said environment minister Anil Madhav Dave after launching the latest HCFC phase-out management plan.

Addressing stakeholders including refrigerant industries' representatives, Dave recalled how India had acted pro-actively to reach a fair deal in Kigali, Rwanda in 2016 to phase out another refrigerant, hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), which is currently being used as an alternative to ODS like HCFC. He insisted that the government had worked hard to protect interests of domestic industries and it's time for the industries to invest in research to develop cutting-edge technology that can be used in future.

Source: March 6, 2017, The Times of India