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Media Partnership for Protecting the Ozone Layer Crucial to Help Sustain Phase-Out of ODS


WEBWIRE

THALTEJ TEKRA, AHMEDABAD, INDIA, June 13, 2005 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- The process of reducing chemical onslaughts on the ozone layer has been guided by well defined scientific and management interventions, the world over. The latter includes financial mechanisms to support changeover to relatively safer alternatives in developing countries.

The objective was to minimize economic dislocation and obsolescence costs through capacity building of all technical stakeholders to adapt to the changeover. Recently recorded levels of ozone in the stratosphere appear to reflect the positive impact, signaling significant success. It is however a major challenge to sustain this success.

Some important barriers in the path of recovery
Illegal trade on ODS appears to be a major concern with the potential to completely undo all the good work in preventing the loading of atmosphere with Ozone Depleting substances (ODS). Countries which have received funds from the Multilateral Fund (MLF) are now obliged to demonstrate complete changeover as a reflection of their adoption of alternatives. The grace period permitted for adaptation is over and hence the present phase of action to strengthen phase out is termed the compliance phase.

For instance, it is important to curb illegal trade on ODS and resolve technical linkages between non-ODS and greenhouse gases to sustain phase out

Significant Success
At a time when debates on the causes and effects of climate change are tending to polarize participation in mitigation, the case of protection of the ozone layer appears to be growing in strength and momentum. Clear quantifications of the extent of depletion, tools and techniques to prevent release of ozone depleting substances (ODS) and capacity building for use of alternatives are responsible for this success. More than USD 1.5 billion has been approved to support 4600 projects in 134 countries to help phase out nearly 1, 73,000 ODP tones of consumption in addition to another 62,200 ODP tones of production . NASA’s satellite observations have provided evidences of recovery of the ozone layer; through an observed decrease in the extent of depletion.

Production and consumption of ODS are being simultaneously phased out through sectoral plans developed by the signatories. This is to ensure that ODS are not available beyond the stipulated period. One of the best examples of capacity building of technicians on the use of alternatives and preventing release of ODS is the HIDECOR (Human and institutional development for ecological refrigeration) initiative in India. This initiative also fulfills the developmental agenda of minimizing economic dislocation and obsolescence costs. Regulatory and fiscal measures have also been developed to complement phase out. Similar initiatives are in progress in other parts of the world, with the support of multilateral agencies.

Stumbling blocks and challenges
An alarming issue particularly in South and South-east Asia appears to be illegal trade in ODS. Unless illegal trade is curbed, the use of ODS may continue surreptitiously and retard the phase out. All the initiatives in curbing releases of ODS and substitution may also be nullified. Production and consumption of methyl bromide and hydro chlorofluorocarbons are areas which have not been adequately addressed. Hydrofluorocarbons and Perfluorocarbons do not harm the ozone layer. They are however, targeted under the Kyoto Protocol. The main challenge is therefore to pursue the objectives of the Montreal Protocol without jeopardizing the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol.

During the current compliance period, monitoring of progress is critical to understand causes for inability to sustain phase out and the risks associated. This is of particular interest to the funding mechanism which would choose to concentrate its resources only on countries which categorically fulfill compliance commitments. Additionally, the danger of the final stages of phase out activities being overlooked as small and insignificant looms large. This is especially true when competition for resources is expected to increase when other environmental priorities may also emerge. Reality Checks
The British Antarctic Survey has highlighted the need for clearly understanding the causes for observed reductions in the extent of depletion and more importantly, the occurrence of extreme natural variations. The Survey reported a drop in the loading of ozone destroying chemicals at the surface of the earth and simultaneously cautions that the levels of total ozone continued to decrease as of October 2003. Interestingly a research study revealed early this month from the George Mason University and IIT-Kanpur that the levels of ozone in the stratosphere over Gangetic basin have dropped significantly. This drop could have significant impact on the lives of millions of people inhabiting the region. Further study is in progress on interpreting the causes for the observed dip.

Sustaining action
Several countries have initiated joint action against illegal trade. For instance, Hungary hosted a meeting on promoting compliance with trade and licensing provisions of the Montreal Protocol in Countries with Economies in Transition (CEIT). This meeting was organized jointly with the UNEP DTIE under the Global Environmental Facility’s regional project on the stated aspect. The participating countries pledged to strengthen ODS monitoring and control operations in the region. A similar initiative has also emerged as a tripartite agreement involving Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. The National Academy of Custom Excise and Narcotics (NACEN), India plays a very important role in building capacities of customs officers in India and several countries of the Asia Pacific region, in conjunction with the Green Customs initiative of the UNEP. Several investment projects and technical assistance initiatives are also in progress to ensure change over to alternatives. It is however important to sustain these interventions and prioritize investment of resources through a comprehensive understanding of the barriers to be overcome. A well-structured mechanism of information support for all the concerned stakeholders is crucial to guide appropriate action, especially during the present compliance phase. Information support to stimulate adaptation
During this compliance phase it is important to ask if all the erstwhile users of ODS are adequately aware of the phase out schedule and tools and techniques for using alternatives. It is equally important to see if regulations create a milieu which stimulates transition and correct reporting of compliance. Other questions which become relevant at this stage include the following: are civil society representatives aware of the impact of radiations and preventive measures?; are financial institutions engaged adequately to strengthen access to alternatives?; what will be the consequences of non - compliance at the individual firm level and collectively at the country level? Media support to periodically deliver appropriate information
The proposed Media - Partnership is aimed at
Collecting relevant information on the stated aspects

Write periodically (once - a - month) in local news media and disseminate through the internet too, about the realities of phase-out. CEE will enable the process of accessing relevant information, for you to write about by

periodically posting you with materials you can refer, and

helping to establish contact with the Head of your country’s National Ozone Unit; to access country specific updates
Inviting your support
This is an initiative of UNEP ROAP - CAP (United Nations Environment Programme - Regional Office of Asia Pacific - Compliance Assistance Programme), which aims to “provide appropriate information in a timely manner” to enable well guided environmental action.

Website: www.ceeindia.org , www.cleanerproduction.org/media.html
FOR FURTHER DETAILS CONTACT:
R. Gopichandran / Praveen Prakash. Industry Initiatives
Centre for Environment Education, Thaltej Tekra, Ahmedabad 380 054, India
Phone: 91 79 26858002-9. Fax: 0091 79 26858010.
E-mail: r.gopichandran@ceeindia.org



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