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Ozone Blog

A blog written by Rajendra Shende, Former Head of the OzonAction Branch, in his personal capacity. This blog does not reflect the policy or position of UNEP or the DTIE OzonAction Branch.
By ozonAction on 9/16/2010
The more I reflect on the 23 impressive years of the Montreal Protocol, the more I realize what far-reaching lessons it holds for the global environment agreements of today. The crises facing us at the end of the first decade of the 21st century require action on an even greater scale than the world's commendable response to the ozone-depletion emergency. The Montreal Protocol transformed a potential catastrophe into a golden economic opportunity. Having listened to the sound and fury of the international climate talks, the ozone messages are worth noting. The intense reverberations: The Montreal Protocol is not simply a multilateral global accord designed to get rid of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). To define it like that would be to describe the telescope simply as a tube with a lens on each end. As Nobel Laureate, Mario Molina has said, "The Montreal Protocol is widely considered the most successful environmental treaty, phasing out almost 100 ozone-depleting chemicals by 97 per cent and placing the ozone layer on the path to recovery by mid-century. It also is the most successful climate treaty to date, because chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and most other ozone depleting substances (ODS) that it has phased out are powerful GHGs." ...
By ozonAction on 7/1/2010
There are many reasons why UN workshops do not start on time. In Seoul, Republic of Korea, the workshop organized for accelerated phase-out of HCFC started late, because that day was "Children's day" and it was raining. But then quickly the house was full with participants. In the opening statement to the full house I said: "The late starting of this workshop, has not affected the attendance. With the full attendance, Korea has demonstrated short-term and long-term commitment to the environment. Short term, because Koreans want to assign dedicated priority to the 'domestic environment' by taking their responsibility as parents and make their children happy by engaging themselves at home. And long term because, they are committed to saving the planet so that their children and children's children will be safe by repairing the ozone hole, and hence they did not want to miss this workshop...
By ozonAction on 6/29/2010
When the plane prepares to leave the arena of the blue sky and approaches the tiny lagoons and atolls of the Maldives emerge from nowhere in the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, the stark vulnerable beauty of the Earth becomes nakedly evident. The island city Male from the height looks quite similar to the barricaded and fortified village of ancient Gaul, made famous in the comic book-series called Asterix. The only difference is that the unnamed village was surrounded by the forest and Male is surrounded by the vastness of ocean. The city is so crowded that only open and green spaces that one can see from the plane are of a football pitch and national stadium. The people of Male zealously guard their land, just like the Gaulois of the first century BC.There,...
By ozonAction on 4/17/2010
"It is a city of blue, red and green. Above you have deep blue sky, around you there are omnipresent red burnt brick houses and at distance on the horizon you see green forest", explained the Minister of Environment of Colombia while describing Bogota. I was there in April 2010 for the regional workshop which was opened by the Minister. Mr Carlos Costa Posada is an unusual Minister of Environment in more than one sense. Firstly, he came 45 minutes before the scheduled time! This is because he was keenly interested in discussing with me on the 'Climate benefit of Ozone Layer protection activities'. Secondly, he gave an extempore address although he had prepared a speech. Thirdly, he was the Minister with engineering background topped by education in UK. He sent a message to me through his office early in the morning at 7 am suggesting a time for a bilateral meeting. That itself was very...
By ozonAction on 4/1/2010
In the evening of 14th April 2010, I felt as if coming out of clouds and finally getting clear vision. The meeting of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the protection of the Ozone Layer that I was attending in Montreal, had just approved the guidelines for financing the projects for HCFC phase out in the developing countries. I considered that as major step forward to open the door to pluck low hanging fruits for the climate benefit. Clearly that presented the unparallel possibility of mitigating nearly 40 Giga T of CO2 equivalent globally. Compare that with the mitigation of just 1.5 Giga t of CO2 equivalent due to all the CDM projects approved till now. Great work indeed. Then same evening, a bit later, I read on the internet the word which was spelled as Eyjafjallajokull , and pronounced , later I was told, as "AY-yah-fyah-lah-YOH-kuul." It sounded like a word that...
By ozonAction on 3/26/2010
'Diplomats & Businessmen' that is the signboard at Jeddah Airport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia directing the arriving Diplomats and Businessmen through a special and privileged lane for passport control and immigration clearance. I had seen such special lanes only for the diplomats in a number of countries. However I had never seen a single special lane for both diplomats and businessmen. Jeddah must be the only airport in the world that equals diplomats with businessmen, when it comes to passport control. After all, why not? Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of United Nations in 1999 at the World Economic Forum said: "..... I told you about hopes for creative partnership between the United Nations and the private sector. …..that the everyday work of the United Nations -- whether in peacekeeping, setting technical standards, protecting intellectual property or providing much-needed...
By ozonAction on 2/14/2010
'Somewhere in the South Pacific Sea'- that's the phrase used when one gets lost. I was recently lost somewhere in South Pacific sea. I was part of the thin line of green land that divides the blue sky above and Pacific sea below. When prayers started at the beginning of the meeting, as per the practices in the region, I was not lost. I was listening carefully to what the priest standing next to me was praying. "We ask the heavenly Father, God, to be with us all in this important meeting. We thank God for bringing the UNEP facilitators to Vanuatu to tell all of us the importance of the Montreal Protocol. We request the help of the spirit from above to guide and provide us better understanding of the Montreal Protocol and to be in its compliance. We ask God to guide us through UNEP resource persons to implement the action plan ahead of us, related to the ODS issues. We thank God for the...
By ozonAction on 1/25/2010
Bella Centre in Copenhagen is a generously large and copiously structured conference complex. My first visit to Denmark, a country with 482 islands, started with a visit to this centre, which is quite large and looked bit disproportionate to the size of the country. I decided to keep all what I read of Denmark including its Viking past, seafare adventures and famous cheeses outside and entered the Bella Centre. That was month of November in 1992! It was evening when I stepped in the Bella Centre to register for the Fourth Meeting of the Parties-MOP- of the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer. I was fresh, rather oven-fresh, in United Nations Environment Programme -UNEP. I was attending the 4th MOP as the OzonAction Coordinator of UNEP's then Industry & Environment office. The OzonAction Programme had just begun its work as Implementing Agency under the...
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