India, on Friday, told US-led developed countries, pushing to bring greenhouse refrigerant gases under the Montreal Protocol, to "respect" other countries, and allow them to phase these out as per their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

On the last day of the talks, Minister of Environment and Forests, Prakash Javadekar, told the group of countries at the UN's Montreal Protocol talks on ozone-depleting substances to be flexible in tackling the issue around hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) and work on building consensus.

"Politics of consensus only wins. You can't force anything on the world community. If all are on board the treaty (will reach its conclusion)," Javadekar told the developed countries, led by the US, that are pushing to change the Montreal Protocol to phase out these coolants.

Several developing countries, such as Pakistan, Argentina and Venezuela, led by the Gulf nations, have been trying to block formal discussions on hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol. These countries believe that since HFCs are greenhouse gases they should be discussed under the UNFCCC and not the Montreal Protocol.

Even though some movement was achieved in the deadlock between the countries supporting and those opposing the inclusion of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol late Wednesday night, US and other countries are reportedly not satisfied.

It is believed that the US is continuing to push the opposing parties, led by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, to agree to the formation of a contact group for formal negotiations on HFCs, which has been on the top of the US' climate diplomacy. Over the last several months, US has engaged India and China in bilateral talks under which negotiations over HFCs formed a key part.

Following these agreements with the US, India and China, previously opposed to any discussions over HFCs, have softened their stance.

Javadekar, too, reiterated India's position on Friday, the last day of the climate talks. He said,"I think whatever we have made wrong by bringing in HFCs, we will have to deal with it and we will deal with it successfully if we create a politics of consensus... with mutual confidence and trust."

The Indian HFC producers have been especially concerned over the possibility of Montreal Protocol being amended. A member of the industry said the US was trying to protect the interests of its domestic companies, such as Honeywell and Dupont, which have developed alternative gases to HFCs, that are both expensive and patented. Further, not all of these alternative gases have been tested.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, say that alternatives to HFCs are already available in the form of hydrocarbons, such as propane, or even ammonia. However, countries with high temperatures, such as the Gulf nations and even India, are not entirely convinced about the safety and efficacy of these alternatives, such as flammability in high quantities.

While India has softened its stance it has not let up on its demands for technology transfer and financial aid for transferring to alternate refrigeration methods, besides proper accounting of production and consumption of HFCs by all nations, including the developed countries.

Javadekar said a special session of the Montreal Protocol should be held to resolve the key issues. "We must convene one session to solve this repeatedly asked question on technology and finance, where we arrive at a solution for technology development, technology transfer and finance," he said.  

( The reporter is in Paris on the invitation of The Centre for Science and Environment .)