Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ozone & Climate Experts Meet To Rectify Treaties

Jul 16: An historic meeting, bringing together experts on the ozone layer and ones on climate change has been concluded this week in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting centered on how to maximize action on hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) -- industrial gases that are ozone-friendly replacements but whose increased use over coming years could have serious impacts on global warming. The meeting, attended by national and international ozone and climate experts, was facilitated by the Ozone Secretariat of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its Montreal Protocol in cooperation with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol.

The delegates looked at how the two treaties can work together to best address HFCs -- replacements for foams, air conditioning units and fridges -- as a contribution to meeting the climate change challenge. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director said, "In a financially constrained world, facing a climate-constrained one, governments need to maximize the economic and social benefits of action across the many environmental challenges of our time. The ozone treaties and the climate convention are natural allies in the push to combat climate change and are thus natural allies in assisting the world to realize a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy -- I welcome this closer collaboration and look forward to hearing at first hand how this can be taken forward for the benefit of the climate and the global environment as a whole."

The Report by the Secretariat on the environmentally sound management of banks of ozone-depleting substances sets the stage for the meeting saying, "Over the past 20 years the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has reduced the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances by more than 97 per cent from historic baseline levels. Because most ozone-depleting substances are potent global warming gases, the Protocol has also eliminated at least 11 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, making it a significant contributor to efforts to combat climate change.

"While the Protocol has reduced production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances, such substances have historically been used in various types of user applications such as refrigeration and fire-fighting equipment and foam products currently in use. In addition, many companies and countries hold virgin, recovered, contaminated or confiscated ozone-depleting substances in discrete stockpiles. Together, the total amount of substances contained in existing equipment, products and stockpiles are referred to as “ozone-depleting substance banks”. The Protocol does not control ozone-depleting substance banks and, in the absence of legislation or incentives, they are likely to be vented or disposed of with little regard for the consequences for the ozone layer and climate change. Given this context, the Parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted decision XX/7, which called for, among other things, the present study on funding opportunities for the destruction of ozone-depleting-substance banks."

Access a release from UNEP (
click here). Access complete information and documents from the meeting (click here).