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By Clement Uwiringiyimana
KIGALI (Reuters) - More than 150 nations meeting in Rwanda hammered out a global deal to cut back on greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners, a Rwandan minister announced to loud cheers on Saturday, a major milestone in combating climate change.
The deal divides countries into three groups with different deadlines to reduce the use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases, which can be 10,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases.
"The amendment and decisions are adopted," said Rwanda's Minister for Natural Resources, Vincent Biruta, before applause drowned out the rest of his words.
Under the pact, developed nations, including much of Europe and the United States, commit to reducing their use of the gases incrementally, starting with a 10 percent cut by 2019 and reaching 85 percent by 2036.
Many wealthier nations have already begun to reduce their use of HFCs.
Two groups of developing countries will freeze their use of the gases by either 2024 or 2028, and then gradually reduce their use. India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the Gulf countries will meet the later deadline.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met officials from China, India and Pakistan during the talks this week. India, the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, had asked for more time for developing nations to adapt their industries.
(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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