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A statement by Klaus Toepfer for the 15th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol - 10 Nov 2003

“Developed countries have, with the exception of some small-scale specialist uses, already phased out Chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) and several other chemicals with high ozone depleting potential. Developing countries are also successfully implementing their phase outs according to agreed targets and time tables,” he said.

“The remaining tasks focus on phasing out Hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs) which, because of their low ozone damaging potential, were introduced as CFC substitutes, and methyl bromide. Methyl bromide is an ozone-depleting chemical used as a pesticide in agriculture. Consumption of this chemical has fallen by 70 percent in developed nations and it is due to be phased out completely by developed countries in 2005,” said Mr. Toepfer.

“In Nairobi next week, Parties to the Montreal Protocol will consider applications for so-called Critical Use Exemptions by developed countries. These amount to some 15,000 tonnes of methyl bromide. Some farmers, predominantly in North America and Europe, are not convinced that the available alternatives are technically or economically feasible to use,” he added.

“This is not without precedent. CFCs are used in asthmatics’ inhalers, for example. Parties have approved so called essential use exemptions in this area but there is no suggestion that these have been abused or that the integrity of the Montreal Protocol is under threat. Indeed the quantities allowed will have been reduced from 15,000 tonnes in 1996 to about 3,000 tonnes in 2004.” Said Mr. Toepfer.

“We fully expect that, if critical use exemptions are approved at next week’s meeting, we will see a similar pattern with respect to methyl bromide. The Technology and Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol has been continuously working to identify suitable alternatives to methyl bromide and to disseminate information on these. We fully expect that Governments and farmers will, in the very near future, switch to these and totally phase out consumption of this ozone damaging chemical too,” he said.