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Asia-Pacific: Are you ready to freeze?!



15 October 2012, Pattaya, Thailand – While the world debates issues related to the warming of the planet, the Montreal Protocol community of Asia-Pacific has come together in Pattaya, Thailand to talk about “FREEZING” in relation to the commitment of governments worldwide to reduce the production and consumption of HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons), an ozone-depleting substance (ODS).

The four-day Joint Network Meeting of Ozone Officers of South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific organized by the OzonAction Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme - Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (UNEP-ROAP) that began today, is attended by around 75 participants from National Ozone Units in Asia-Pacific, senior officials and experts from various international organizations and donor countries.

The meeting aims to provide a platform for information exchange on national policies and strategies to achieve compliance with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, particularly the developing countries’ commitment to freeze baseline production and consumption of HCFCs by 1 January 2013.

“This region accounts for 85% of global production and 74% of global consumption of HCFCs in developing countries. With 76 days left before the first commitment period for HCFCs, this meeting aims to review whether Asia-Pacific is ready to meet the 1 January 2013 target and face the challenges the obligation carries head-on. Ozone Officers and governments need to catch the bull by its horn!” said Mr. Atul Bagai, Senior Regional Coordinator, UNEP-ROAP.

HCFCs are commonly used in the commercial and domestic refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) industry and in the foam sector. In 2007, Parties to the Montreal Protocol decided to accelerate the phase-out of these chemicals. HCFCs are also known as powerful greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to global warming, therefore the reduction and eventual phase-out will lead not only to the recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer but also to the mitigation of climate change.

“Article 5 Parties are facing a number of challenges ahead of us in the coming years. In less than three months, Article 5 Parties have to freeze the growing consumption of HCFCs,” stated by Mr. Chumphon Cheewapraphanun, Deputy Director-General of Thailand’s Department of Industrial Works. “With a large base of local and multinational air-conditioner manufacturers, Thailand’s HCFC consumption is almost three times the amount of CFCs during this peak year. The size and complexities of the industry including limitation of potential alternatives that meet climate and safety concerns has posed a bigger challenge than CFCs for Thailand to meet the coming obligations,” he added.

The issues of Thailand are similar to many other developing countries in the region, and this meeting also offers the opportunity for information exchange, south-south cooperation and brainstorming for engaging the industry through Public-Private Partnerships.

“The Montreal Protocol continues to operate on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, a principal foundation of multilateral environmental agreements.  The partnerships that have been built both nationally and globally are the cornerstone of the success of the Protocol.  We derive strength from these partnerships if we never forget that this is the basic guiding principle inherent in the Montreal Protocol.  We should continue to remember this fundamental concept as we face the challenges of fully implementing the HCFC phase out projects in the next few years,” said Ms. Cecilia Mercado, Senior Programme Officer of the Multilateral Fund Secretariat.

In the last two years, Article 5 countries have been busy developing and implementing HCFC Phase-out Management Plans (HPMPs) to enable them to meet the compliance targets under the Montreal Protocol. A key step in achieving compliance is ensuring the establishment of national licensing systems for the import and export of HCFCs, and the development of quota systems for HCFCs to limit their production and/or importation. Through the networks, countries are able to share experiences and lessons learned in policy and legislation development for HCFC phase-out.

Other key agenda topics include the upcoming Meeting of the Parties in November, smuggling of banned or counterfeit refrigerants, remaining use of carbon tetrachloride for laboratories and methyl bromide in agriculture, and selection of long-term, sustainable alternatives to HCFCs. Also part of the programme is the regional celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol on 16th October 2012.
  
For more information, please contact:

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

Ms. Anne Fenner, Information Manager, UNEP OzonAction Programme, Tel: +33 1 4437 1454; Email: anne.fenner@unep.org

Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP, Tel: +662 288 2127/02 288 2314; E-mail: satwant.kaur@unep.org

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 a number of substances believed to be 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. The 2012 Committee membership includes Belgium, Canada, Finland, Japan, Romania, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America (developed countries) and Argentina, China, Cuba, India, Kenya, Jordan and Mali (developing country members) and is chaired by Mr. Xiao Xuezhi (China). The Committee is assisted by the Fund Secretariat which is based in Montreal, Canada.