Developing Countries Funded to Phase Out Ozone Depleters

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada, July 25, 2003 (ENS) - Almost US$100 million will be made available to India, Mexico, North Korea and Trinidad and Tobago to assist their industries to phase out substances that harm the ozone layer.

At its 40th meeting last week, the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol resolved to assist these and 21 other developing countries to advance their elimination of ozone depleting substances.

The ozone layer, which absorbs ultraviolet radiation harmful to living organisms and human health, is in danger from several chemicals currently used in industry and agriculture such as chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform and methyl bromide.

India will receive a total of US$52 million to completely phase out its production and consumption of the toxic chemical carbon tetrachloride. This chemical is used in making refrigeration liquid and aerosol can propellant. It has been used as a solvent and a cleaning fluid, such as in dry cleaning and spot removers, in fire extinguishers and even as a pesticide.

In addition to its harmful effects on the ozone layer, carbon tetrachloride is dangerous to human health. Acute exposure to carbon tetrachloride at high levels can cause headache, weakness, lethargy, nausea and vomiting. Exposure has been observed to damage the liver and kidneys in humans, and has effected the reproductive systems of laboratory animals.

The Executive Committee has also targeted funds to phase out CFCs, which are still used in refrigerators and air conditioners in developing countries. These ozone depleting substances can remain in the atmosphere for decades or even longer, the committee said.

About US$32 million from the Multilateral Fund will go to Mexico which has agreed to the gradual cessation of its CFC production.


The dark blue indicates an absence of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica known as the ozone hole. (Photo courtesy NOAA)
Closure of Mexico's CFC production capacity, currently estimated at 13,000 metric tons per year, will reduce the availability of CFCs in neighboring countries and accelerate their replacement with substitutes that do not harm the ozone layer, the committee said.

North Korea and Trinidad and Tobago will also receive funding to phase out all of their consumption of CFCs.

Overall, the funding committed at the 40th meeting will lead to additional phaseout of a total of around 12,000 metric tons of consumption and about 9,000 tons of production of ozone depleting substances.

The Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol began its operation in 1991. The main objective of the fund is to assist developing country parties to the Montreal Protocol whose annual per capita consumption and production of ozone depleting substances is less than 0.3 kilograms to comply with the control measures of the Protocol.

The US$2 billion dollar fund is managed by an Executive Committee chaired by Ambassador Tadanori Inomata of Japan. El Salvador's Josť Orlando Altamirano is the committee's vice chair.

The committee is assisted by the Fund Secretariat which is based in Montreal. Activities are implemented by four international agencies - the UN Development Programme, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Industrial Development Organization, and the World Bank - and a number of bilateral government agencies.

Responsibility for overseeing the operation of the fund rests with the Executive Committee comprising seven members each from developed countries - Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Hungary, Japan, and the United States - and developing countries - Bolivia, Burundi, El Salvador, India, Jordan, Mauritius and Saint Lucia.

Since 1991, the Multilateral Fund has approved activities including industrial conversion, technical assistance, training and capacity building worth some US$1.5 billion that will result in the phaseout of approximately 180,000 metric tons of consumption and production of ozone depleting substances in developing countries.