hydrocarbon industry

Kigali agreement: India's HFC target is equal to shutting down 1/6th of its thermal power stations

India will reduce 75% of its cumulative hydrofluorocarbon emissions between 2015 and 2050, under the new agreement finalised in Rwanda.

India’s participation in a global agreement on climate change will reduce India’s greenhouse gases equal to closing one-sixth of India’s thermal power stations over the next 35 years, according to an IndiaSpend calculation, based on carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions from thermal power stations in 2012.

As many as 197 countries reached a legally binding agreement in Rwanda on October 15 to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons – gases that can have global warming potential up to 12,000 times more than carbon dioxide. The agreement will come into force on January 1, 2019, and avoid emission of 70 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent globally – the same as stopping more than half of tropical deforestation.

India agreed to cut the production and use of HFCs starting 2028 – a more ambitious plan than India’s earlier proposal – according to a press release by Climate Action Network International, a network of non-governmental organisations working to limit climate change.

India will reduce 75% of its cumulative HFC emissions between 2015 and 2050, under the new agreement finalised in Rwanda, according to Vaibhav Chaturvedi, a researcher at Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a research institute headquartered in New Delhi.

Environmental impact

Developed countries will start reducing HFCs in 2019, followed by a group of developing countries including China, in 2024. India is in the group of countries which will reduce HFC consumption last, starting 2028.

The agreement is part of the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty for reducing the use of ozone-depleting substances, and now global warming gases.

“The agreement recognises the development imperatives of high-growth economies like India, and provides a realistic and viable roadmap for the implementation of a phase-out schedule for high global warming potential HFCs,” according to a press release by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

HFCs are commonly used in air conditioners and refrigerators. HFCs would make up 5.4% of India’s global warming impact in 2050, as demand for air conditioners and refrigerators rises, according to a 2015 report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water. The highest HFC emissions in 2050 are predicted to come from residential air-conditioning (35%) and commercial refrigeration (28%).

HFC emissions in the world are expected to grow by 10-15% by 2050, and could contribute to 200 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions. Preventing the rise of these emissions could reduce the warming of the earth by 0.5 degrees Celsius, according to this 2015 brief by Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, an advocacy and research organisation headquartered in Washington DC.

Ambitious plan

The new agreement for HFC reduction for a group of countries – which includes India, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq – is more ambitious that the previous Indian proposal for developing countries but less intensive that the North American proposal.

India had earlier proposed a plan for developing countries to freeze HFC consumption by 2031, which means HFC use and production would be highest in that year, and decrease every year after 2031. A counterproposal by North America had suggested developing countries freeze HFC production and consumption in 2021.

An earlier freeze and baseline under the agreed amendment means that India will mitigate more CO2 equivalent that its original proposal.

Under the new agreement, India will freeze HFC consumption and use by 2028, while phasing down HFCs, by 2047, to 15% of the average consumption and use over 2024-2026.

It would approximately cost India $16.48 billion (Rs 1.1 lakh crore), Chaturvedi of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water said.

Another group of developing countries, including China, has agreed to freeze HFC consumption and use even earlier, by 2024. By 2045, these countries will reduce HFCs by 80% of the average consumption between 2020 and 2022.

Developed countries, such as the Unites States and western European countries, have agreed to freeze HFC consumption and use in 2019, and by 2036, phase down HFCs to 15% of the average use and consumption between 2011 and 2013.

“The flexibility and cooperation shown by India as well as other countries has created this fair, equitable and ambitious HFC agreement,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on October 15.

India, and other developing countries, will be financially assisted by the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol, philanthropies, and other developed countries, as they switch from HFCs to other alternatives, with lower global warming potential, as IndiaSpend reported on October 14, 2016.

The Indian government also passed an order on October 13 for all producers to destroy HFC-23, a gas with a global warming potential 12,500 times that of CO2, according to the United Nations Environment Program. This will result in eliminating emissions of 100 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in India, over the next 15 years, according to Chandra Bhushan, the director of Centre for Science and Environment, a research and advocacy organisation, reported Livemint.

This article first appeared on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

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Modern home design trends that are radically changing living spaces in India

From structure to finishes, modern homes embody lifestyle.

Homes in India are evolving to become works of art as home owners look to express their taste and lifestyle through design. It’s no surprise that global home design platform Houzz saw over a million visitors every month from India, even before their services were locally available. Architects and homeowners are spending enormous time and effort over structural elements as well as interior features, to create beautiful and comfortable living spaces.

Here’s a look at the top trends that are altering and enhancing home spaces in India.

Cantilevers. A cantilever is a rigid structural element like a beam or slab that protrudes horizontally out of the main structure of a building. The cantilevered structure almost seems to float on air. While small balconies of such type have existed for eons, construction technology has now enabled large cantilevers, that can even become large rooms. A cantilever allows for glass facades on multiple sides, bringing in more sunlight and garden views. It works wonderfully to enhance spectacular views especially in hill or seaside homes. The space below the cantilever can be transformed to a semi-covered garden, porch or a sit-out deck. Cantilevers also help conserve ground space, for lawns or backyards, while enabling more built-up area. Cantilevers need to be designed and constructed carefully else the structure could be unstable and lead to floor vibrations.

Butterfly roofs. Roofs don’t need to be flat - in fact roof design can completely alter the size and feel of the space inside. A butterfly roof is a dramatic roof arrangement shaped, as the name suggests, like a butterfly. It is an inverted version of the typical sloping roof - two roof surfaces slope downwards from opposing edges to join around the middle in the shape of a mild V. This creates more height inside the house and allows for high windows which let in more light. On the inside, the sloping ceiling can be covered in wood, aluminium or metal to make it look stylish. The butterfly roof is less common and is sure to add uniqueness to your home. Leading Indian architecture firms, Sameep Padora’s sP+a and Khosla Associates, have used this style to craft some stunning homes and commercial projects. The Butterfly roof was first used by Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who later designed the city of Chandigarh, in his design of the Maison Errazuriz, a vacation house in Chile in 1930.

Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Skylights. Designing a home to allow natural light in is always preferred. However, spaces, surrounding environment and privacy issues don’t always allow for large enough windows. Skylights are essentially windows in the roof, though they can take a variety of forms. A well-positioned skylight can fill a room with natural light and make a huge difference to small rooms as well as large living areas. However, skylights must be intelligently designed to suit the climate and the room. Skylights facing north, if on a sloping roof, will bring in soft light, while a skylight on a flat roof will bring in sharp glare in the afternoons. In the Indian climate, a skylight will definitely reduce the need for artificial lighting but could also increase the need for air-conditioning during the warm months. Apart from this cleaning a skylight requires some effort. Nevertheless, a skylight is a very stylish addition to a home, and one that has huge practical value.

Staircases. Staircases are no longer just functional. In modern houses, staircases are being designed as aesthetic elements in themselves, sometimes even taking the centre-stage. While the form and material depend significantly on practical considerations, there are several trendy options. Floating staircases are hugely popular in modern, minimalist homes and add lightness to a normally heavy structure. Materials like glass, wood, metal and even coloured acrylic are being used in staircases. Additionally, spaces under staircases are being creatively used for storage or home accents.

Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Exposed Brick Walls. Brickwork is traditionally covered with plaster and painted. However, ‘exposed’ bricks, that is un-plastered masonry, is becoming popular in homes, restaurants and cafes. It adds a rustic and earthy feel. Exposed brick surfaces can be used in home interiors, on select walls or throughout, as well as exteriors. Exposed bricks need to be treated to be moisture proof. They are also prone to gathering dust and mould, making regular cleaning a must.

Cement work. Don’t underestimate cement and concrete when it comes to design potential. Exposed concrete interiors, like exposed brick, are becoming very popular. The design philosophy is ‘Less is more’ - the structure is simplistic and pops of colour are added through furniture and soft furnishings.

Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)

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