Developing Countries Funded for Ozone Safe Technology

DAKAR, Senegal, December 16, 2005 (ENS) - A budget of US$470 million to support developing countries as they switch to technologies that do not deplete the Earth's stratospheric ozone layer has been approved by the member states of the Montreal Protocol. The funds will be used during the three year period 2006 to 2008.

Concluding their week long conference in Dakar, the delegates agreed that the agree,emt to complete the developing countries phaseout of ozone-depleting substances reflects continued international concern about the damaged condition of the ozone layer.

In September, the seasonal hole in the stratospheric ozone layer that appears over Antarctica reached a maximum of 10,000 square miles (25,900 square kilometers), equivalent to the size of North America, and close to the record set in 2003.

The ozone layer may take longer to recover than previously thought, scientists announced on December 6 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Based on a combination of new ozone measurements and computer models, U.S. government scientists revised the date generally used to estimate Antarctic ozone recovery from 2050 to 2065 - 15 years longer than previously predicted, due to the continued release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from old equipment still in use in developed countries.

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Marco Gonzalez, executive secretary of the Montreal Protocol, addresses delegates in Dakar. (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)
A depleted ozone layer allows more UV-B radiation to reach the Earth’s surface. Risks include more skin cancers, more eye cataracts, weakened immune systems, reduced plant yields, damage to ocean ecosystems, reduced fishing yields, adverse effects on animals, and more damage to plastics.

Under the Protocol, developing countries have until 2010 to phase out CFCs and halons and until 2015 to phase out methyl bromide.

The newly agreed funding package will supplement the almost $2 billion already disbursed since 1990 by the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund on capacity building and projects for phasing out ozone depleting substances.

“Completing the phase out of CFCs by developing countries is essential for returning the stratospheric ozone layer to health,” said Marco Gonzalez, executive secretary of the Montreal Protocol, which was negotiated under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme.

“Today’s agreement demonstrates that the global partnership for ozone protection is alive and well," Gonzalez said.

Senegal's Prime Minister Macky Sall attended the meeting Thursday and praised the spirit of solidarity that has led to the ozone regime's success.

Senegal Prime Minister Macky Sall addressess delegates to the Montreal Protocol conference. (Photo courtesy ENB)
Sall said the fund on technical assistance and research and replenishment of the Multilateral Fund are essential funding priorities to help developing countries such as Senegal switch to ozone friendly technologies.

The meeting also reached agreement on the continuing phaseout by developed countries of several remaining uses of CFCs and of methyl bromide - a soil fumigant for high-value crops such as strawberries, which is also used as a pesticide.

The phaseout deadlines for these countries have already passed, but the Protocol allows governments to request specific, time limited “critical-use exemptions” when technically or economically feasible alternatives do not yet exist.

Earlier conferences granted exemptions for methyl bromide to 16 developed countries totaling 16,050 metric tons for 2005 (the first phase-out year) and 13,014 tons for 2006. An additional 404 tons allowed for 2006 were confirmed today.

The 2007 critical use exemptions agreed today for Australia (41 metric tons), Canada (40), Japan (636) and the United States (6,749) amount to some 7,466 tons – representing a 45 percent reduction from the amounts agreed for the previous year.

“This sharp year-on-year decline greatly stengthens the credibility of the Protocol. Farmers and other users of methyl bromide are clearly working hard to find replacements to this dangerous chemical,” said Gonzalez.

The total agreed essential-use exemptions for CFCs in metered dose inhalers for asthmatics of 2,039 metric tons in 2006 and 1,243 tons in 2007 also show an important decline, Gonzalez said.

The CFC phase-out year for developed countries was 1996.

Other issues addressed in Dakar have included the challenge of reducing illegal trafficking in CFCs and other substances and a recent joint report of the Protocol’s Technology and Economics Assessment Panel and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on ozone and global warming interlinkages entitled “Safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate System.”

This week’s conference consisted of the Seventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the 17th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The conference also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Convention.