Dakar, 12 December 2005 – The world’s governments are meeting here from 12 - 16 December to set the course for the global phase out of ozone-depleting substances over the next five years and beyond.
This week’s conference consists 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. It will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Convention.
Since the adoption of the Vienna Convention in 1985, followed by the Montreal Protocol in 1987, the international ozone regime has expanded to address almost 100 ozone-depleting chemicals – some of which also contribute to global warming.
Developed under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the ozone regime has transformed the refrigeration, electronics, foam-making and other industries and thus touched the lives of virtually all the world’s citizens, usually without their even being aware of it.
In addition to celebrating past successes, this year’s Dakar conference will focus on how developed countries can best eliminate their remaining ozone-depleting substances (whose impact on the ozone layer is now under two percent of what it was during the peak years) while supporting the continued phase out in developing countries.
The Montreal Protocol Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) are recommending that developed countries provide approximately $439m over the next three years to support the developing country phase-out.
This funding would constitute the fifth replenishment of the Multilateral Fund, an innovative institution that has promoted the transfer of ozone-friendly technologies and know-how to virtually every developing country in the world. This has enabled these countries to surpass their phase-out goals and reduce their consumption of ozone-depleting substances by over 60%.
“The Montreal Protocol clearly demonstrates that, once they have access to technical and financial resources, developing countries are ready, willing and able to take aggressive action to protect the global environment,” said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer.
“The Multilateral Fund has proven itself highly effective in supporting national phase-out programmes, and it deserves the strongest possible support for enabling developing countries to achieve the Protocol’s ambitious goals for the years ahead,” he said.
While developed countries have already phased out virtually all uses of CFCs – historically the greatest cause of ozone destruction – a number of them have been unable to meet the agreed 2005 phase-out target for methyl bromide, a widely used agricultural fumigant. (Developing countries have until 2015 to phase out this chemical.)
This has led 16 developed countries to request “critical-use exemptions” from the methyl-bromide phase out on the grounds that there are no technically or economically feasible alternatives available to them for specific uses. Earlier conferences granted exemptions to these countries totaling 16,050 metric tonnes for 2005 and 13,014 tonnes for 2006.
In Dakar, the Parties will consider requests for critical-use exemptions for 2007 amounting to less then 8,000 tonnes. While additional requests may still be forthcoming, strong pressure on the users of methyl bromide to find replacements has clearly succeeded in maintaining the downward trend in use of this chemical.
Meanwhile, since 1994 a limited number of developed countries have been requesting and receiving essential-use exemptions for the use of CFCs in metered dose inhalers, most commonly used to address asthma. From a high of nearly 14,000 tonnes requested for 1997, the Parties to the Protocol will be considering requests for 2,527 tonnes in 2006 and 1,736 tonnes in 2007.
“The phase out in the costly, technically challenging and critically important area of medicinal uses of CFCs should be seen as a hallmark of the Protocol’s success,” said Mr. Toepfer. “It has brought together scientists, business leaders and government officials to achieve the global environmental objective of protecting the ozone layer. While it may be taking a bit longer than we may have liked, governments have been prudent in weighing the life-saving nature of these drugs against the environmental imperative and in allowing time for proven alternatives to penetrate the market.”
In addition to the Montreal Protocol agenda, the Dakar conference will include items under its parent agreement, the Vienna Convention, which now meets every third year. This Convention, which focuses on the scientific study of ozone depletion, will consider recommendations by experts aimed at ensuring that there is a sufficient global monitoring network in place to assess the healing of the ozone layer and the effects that the emission of other gasses into the atmosphere may have on that healing.
In addition, an awards ceremony on 15 December will mark the contribution of ozone scientists and others on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Convention, as well as statements by ministers and senior officials.
Note to journalists: For more information, please contact Michael Williams at +41-22-917-8242, +41-79-4091528 (cell), or firstname.lastname@example.org. See also www.unep.org/ozone