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Asia-Pacific countries experience Bhutan “happiness” in climate protection during ozone talks


Paro, 15 May 2012 – Governments of Asia-Pacific together with international organizations and donor countries have all flown to the lush, green mountains of the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan for the Joint Network Meeting of Ozone Officers of South Asia and Southeast Asia and the Pacific starting today until 17 May 2012 in Paro.

“We welcome our friends in the region to the Kingdom of Bhutan which has committed to be carbon neutral. It is our pleasure to host such an important meeting which will help especially the developing countries in their programmes to protect the earth’s natural shield against dangerous ultraviolet rays from the sun,” said Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, Minister of Environment, Royal Government of Bhutan.

The meetings are organized by UNEP OzonAction in cooperation with the National Environment Commission of Bhutan, with funding support from the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Network Meetings, which are conducted twice a year, discuss strategies and progress of action plans to enable countries in the region to achieve the Montreal Protocol’s targets. Notable among those targets is the phase out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), gases which harm the ozone layer and climate system if released.

“The theme of the meeting is “HCFC FreeZE: 231:33:5535.” This number represents the days, weeks and hours remaining for developing countries to meet their first HCFC-related compliance target - the freeze of consumption by 1 January 2013. The clock is ticking and countries must act quickly to ensure that the targets are achieved,” stated Mr. James Curlin, Interim Head of the UNEP OzonAction Branch. “HCFC licensing and enforceable quota systems are among the key priorities for action. Based on their track record under the Montreal Protocol, I am confident Asia-Pacific countries are up to the HCFC challenge,” he added.

“The Ozone Secretariat is committed to participate in the Network Meetings of the Asia-Pacific because the compliance by the countries in this region are very important in the success of the Montreal Protocol, considering that the global HCFC consumption in 2010 reflect that 85% of production and 74% of consumption in developing countries are in Asia,” said Ms. Megumi Seki, Senior Scientific Officer of the Ozone Secretariat.

The first network meeting of 2012 in Bhutan is particularly special for the international community working on ozone layer protection as it is also a time for a regional celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol. The celebration, which will be held in Thimpu, expects the presence of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Jetsun Pema Wangchuck.

“The international celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol provides us with an occasion to commemorate past achievements, which have contributed to the protection of the ozone layer and mitigated greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, and to prepare to meet new challenges. The Multilateral Fund Secretariat joins with the Governments of Asia-Pacific on this happy occasion and commits to continue to work through the Fund’s Executive Committee and together with the international community to provide technical and financial assistance needed by developing countries to ensure their compliance with the Montreal Protocol” said Ms. Julia Anne Dearing, Information Management Officer of the Multilateral Fund Secretariat.

According to the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, without the Montreal Protocol, the Earth would have been on track to lose two thirds of its ozone layer by 2065, leading to dramatic increases in skin cancer.

“Thanks to multilateral action under the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer is recovering steadily. However, there is still a need for a stronger multilateral action and more rapid progress in reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, especially because of the fact that the world population has reached 7 billion and the demand for food, energy and resources is growing. The reduction of HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol will significantly contribute to this global effort to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, and the Compliance Assistance Programme of the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific will be most ready to assist countries in the region in the best way possible,” said Mr. Atul Bagai, Senior Regional Coordinator of UNEP OzonAction.

The three-day meeting will be followed by a workshop on Climate and Energy Use (CEU) Linkages to HCFC Phase-out from 17 to 18 May, which aims to explore ways to connect energy efficiency benefits with the transition to non-HCFC technologies.

For more information, please contact:

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: 02 288 2127/02 288 2314;, Mobile: 083 9086000; E-mail: satwant.kaur@unep.org
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. Peldon Tshering, Chief Environment Officer, National Environment Commission Secretariat. Tel: +975 2 32 3384; Fax: +975 2 32 3385; E-mail: peldon@nec.gov.bt.

OzonAction Programme: www.unep.org/ozonaction
Multilateral Fund: www.multilateralfund.org
Ozone Secretariat: www.ozone.unep.org
Bhutan’s National Environment Commission: www.nec.gov.bt

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, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and 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.