Bhutan 'happy' to launch project to protect ozone layer and climate

Thimphu/Bangkok, 30 September 2011 –The Royal Government of Bhutan, known worldwide as the architect of the philosophy of Gross National Happiness, committed to protect the ozone layer as Royal Bride-to-be, Jetsun Pema, launched the country’s HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP). Bhutan made a historic commitment to phase out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are both ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and powerful greenhouse gases (GHGs), ten years ahead of the Montreal Protocol schedule.

The event was aptly set in the courtyard of Tashichho Dzong, the seat of the nation, which stands by a river, has the hills of Thimpu as backdrop and represents the pristine environment of the Kingdom. The government is determined to preserve the splendor of Bhutan and remain carbon neutral in the face of challenges brought about by the emissions of GHGs. “We want to phase out HCFCs as soon as possible and maintain our country’s status as a net sink for GHGs,” said Dr. Ugyen Tshewang, Secretary of the National Environment Council (NEC) of the Royal Government of Bhutan.

“The Royal Government of Bhutan is committed to pursue sustainable development based on the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. This broad vision of development is based on balanced economic development with preservation of environment, culture, heritage and security,” Dr. Ugyen added.

The HPMP project of Bhutan, supported by the Multilateral Fund for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as lead implementing agency and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as cooperating agency, aims to enable the country to meet its HCFC phase-out obligations under the Montreal Protocol.

The OzonAction Programme of UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) has been supporting NEC in the development of the country’s HPMP, which included stakeholder consultations and a thorough survey of consumption of HCFCs in Bhutan. The Plan was developed in a single-stage approach, in contrast with many countries which will follow at least a two-stage strategy.

“The implementation plan includes measures which include combination of regulations and enforcement instruments, training and capacity building, information exchange, advocacy programmes and project initiatives,” shared Mr. Atul Bagai, Senior Regional Coordinator, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP).

Ministerial delegations from South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, the UNEP and senior government officials participated in the event. In addition, all have committed to cooperate with each other to ensure the success of the Plan.

To achieve the targets set in the Plan, Bhutan will follow a three-pronged approach for HCFC phase-out comprising the following elements: 1) Limiting the supply of HCFC; 2) Reduction of the demand for HCFCs for servicing existing equipment; and 3) Limiting new demand of HCFCs. This approach aims to reduce the dependence on HCFCs until the final phase-out in 2020.

“HCFC phase-out and the protection of the environment is not only the responsibility of the industry and government but also the general public as consumers,” stated Ms. Peldon Tshering, the Chief Environment Officer and National Ozone Officer of the NEC.

HCFCs in Bhutan are primarily used in the air-conditioning and refrigeration servicing sector in its large industrial establishments, hotels and resorts, corporate offices, governmental sectors, as well as domestic servicing sector.

30 September 2011 - The Royal Bride-to-be, Jetsun Pema, launches the HCFC phase-out management plan for Bhutan to protect ozone layer depletion, at the Tashichho dzong courtyard yesterday evening. Ministerial delegations from SAARC countries, the UNEP and senior government officials attend the launch.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP, Tel: 02 288 2127/02 288 2314; Mobile: 083 9086000; E-mail:

Ms. Anne Fenner, Information Manager, UNEP OzonAction Programme, Tel: +33 1 4437 1454; Email:

Mr. Atul Bagai, Senior Regional Network Coordinator, OzonAction Programme, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and Pacific. Tel: +6622881662 ; Fax: +6622883041 ; Email:

Ms. Peldon Tshering, Chief Environment Officer, National Environment Commission Secretariat. Tel: +975 2 32 3384; Fax: +975 2 32 3385; E-mail:

OzonAction Programme:
Multilateral Fund:
Ozone Secretariat:
Bhutan’s National Environment Commission:

Notes to Editors

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the United Nations system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.

Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of nearly 100 chemical substances responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987 and entered into force on January 1, 1989. Since then, it has undergone five revisions, in 1990 (London), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing). Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international cooperation "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date...”

The Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol is managed by an Executive Committee which is responsible for overseeing the operation of the Fund. The Committee comprises seven members from developed and seven members from developing countries. In 2011 the Committee membership includes Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Switzerland, United States of America (developed countries) and Argentina, China, Cuba, Grenada, Kenya, Kuwait, Morocco (developing country members) and is chaired by Mr. Patrick McInerney of Australia. The Committee is assisted by the Fund Secretariat which is based in Montreal, Canada.

Activities are implemented by four international agencies (UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, World Bank) and a number of bilateral government agencies. Since 1991, the Multilateral Fund has approved activities including industrial conversion, technical assistance, training and capacity building worth over US $2.7 billion that will result in the phase out of almost 460,000 ODP tonnes of consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances in developing countries.