India was among 197 nations that signed the Kigali agreement in Rwanda on Saturday, to curb the use of climate-altering hydrofluorocarbon gases. The deal was signed after seven years of negotiations, as an amendment in the 1989 Montreal Protocol. HFCs are said to be far more dangerous than carbon dioxide in causing global warming, and its emissions are increasing by around 10% a year. A set of 19 HFC gases are used extensively in machines like air-conditioners and refrigerators.

According to the agreement, developed nations will begin phasing down HFC gases by 2019, and developing countries will follow suit by 2024. While developed nations agreed to bring down such emissions to 85% below their 2011-’13 levels by 2036, developing ones will reduce them to 80% of 2020-’22 levels by 2045. A small group of countries, including India and Pakistan, will reduce their HFC emissions by 85% of 2024-’26 by 2047.

The deal aims at total elimination of these emissions by 2050, preventing a 0.5-degree Celsius rise in world temperatures by the end of the century. It is thus vital in helping the Paris climate target of keeping global temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius this century.

David Doniger, Climate and Clean Air Program director of Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council, told The Indian Express that the deal was a major breakthrough. He said. “This is the biggest step we can take in the year to after the Paris Agreement against the widening threats from climate change. And bringing HFCs under Montreal Protocol sends a clear signal to the global market place to start replacing these dangerous chemicals with a new generation of climate friendly and energy efficient alternatives.”