RESEARCH | Staff Reporter, India

Multinational fast food chains ignore mitigation opportunity in India: EIA report

Last year, every country in the world committed to phase-down Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

A new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that a few multinational fast-food and beverage companies in India could avoid up to 38 million metric tons of CO2, the same as taking 8.5 million cars off the road for a year, by not using HFCs for cooling.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air-conditioning, despite availability of alternative climate-friendly refrigerants. Last year, every country in the world committed to phase-down HFCs under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

“Under the Kigali Amendment, India will be one of the last countries to begin control measures on HFCs, making earlier action by multinationals imperative to keep pace with the global market,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, EIA Climate Campaign Lead.

“This report shows that while switching to energy-efficient HFC-free alternatives could save them up to $300 million through 2030, big multinationals continue to use outdated cooling technology that adds to Indian emissions burden. These companies have no excuse to continue business-as-usual since such a switch is not only environmentally responsible and technically feasible, but also economically viable.”

Transitioning HFCs in India studied some of the fastest growing multinational fast food chains in India including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway and Domino’s for the second year in a row, and found: having installed 73,000 HFC-free standalone freezer cabinets throughout the country as of August this year, Hindustan Unilever stands out among the evaluated companies, avoiding up to 125,000 MTCO2e in direct emissions compared to HFC standalone retail units and reaping energy savings of about 9%.

"Even after the adoption of the Kigali amendment, multinational companies continue to practice double standards in developing countries like India. While they have made significant voluntary commitments to move to green cooling systems in their parent market, they refuse to do so in India. The government should think about imposing strict standards on them", said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi.

The report urges multinational fast food and beverage chains to commit to HFC-free refrigeration and calls on the Government of India to mandate multinationals to use only low global warming potential refrigerants.

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