Division of Technology, Industry and Economics

High-Level Technical Workshop aims to address the remaining challenges to achieve complete and sustainable phase out of Methyl Bromide in developing countries

Methyl Bromide Consumption in Developing Countries Already Cut by 85% of their Baseline Consumption

Sharm El-Sheikh, 23 February 2014 – With eight months remaining to meet one of the most challenging targets set by the Montreal Protocol (MP) on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, developing nations are pushing ahead on phasing out methyl bromide (MB), which has been used as a fumigant to control pests in agriculture.

With assistance from the Multilateral Fund (MLF) for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, experts and officials have been working during the last two decades to promote sustainable and safe alternatives to one of the world’s top five most widely used pesticides. The phasing-out of controlled uses of methyl bromide is being achieved through a consistent and successful global effort under the Montreal Protocol, leading to nearly 95% of the global baseline of 71,950 metric tonnes been replaced alternatives by the end of 2012.

A-5 Parties to the Montreal Protocol in turn succeeded in phasing out over than 85% of their baseline consumption of 15,867 metric tonnes by the end of 2012, ahead of the designated date for the complete phase out in 2015.

From West Asia, some Gulf countries have funded their own projects to bring about the phase-out, while farmers, exporters associations and private enterprises in Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco and Syria have financed experiments to adapt alternatives in concert with their national methyl bromide phase out plans funded by the MLF. Such activities will facilitate complete and sustainable phase out of all controlled applications within agreed MP schedules.

To further assess progress made so far and ensure compliance with the total phase out of methyl bromide by 1 January 2015, the Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), this week brings together 22 countries and other regional and international specialized organizations in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The meeting, held in collaboration with the Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs and the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) of Egypt, will define actions and measures that need to be taken to overcome policy, technical and economic barriers that may hinder the phase out of the Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS).

By evaluating the current challenges and persistent areas of difficulty for full adoption of proven alternatives for some applications if any, the participating experts will fill in gaps between the capacity of A-5 countries including their applicable policies and regulations and the efficiency and cost of alternatives.

Key facts

  • Methyl bromide destroys the ozone layer at a rate 50 times faster than chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
  • By the end of 2012, developing countries had phased out more than 98 per cent of controlled uses of methyl bromide and 85 per cent of their consumption.
  • The Arab region as a whole constitutes an estimated 12 per cent of use and 3 per cent of global consumption of methyl bromide.
  • Studies show it will be less expensive to eliminate methyl bromide and find alternatives than to finance the medical costs associated with the increase in skin cancer cases caused by increased exposure to UV rays. The pesticide can cause a range of health effects in humans, including neurological symptoms such as headaches, nausea and muscle tremors.

Alternatives to Methyl Bromide:

Many efficient alternatives have been adopted as alternatives to methyl bromide, including:

  • Pasteurisation or steam sterilisation, carried out by injecting or diffusing hot water vapour into the soil to kill pests, diseases and weeds.
  • Using soilless substrates (Hydroponic production) to grow crops such as tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, cut flowers, melons, cucurbits, nursery-grown vegetable transplants, and tobacco.
  • Solarisation, when solar heat is trapped under clear plastic film placed over moist soil, which increases soil temperature to levels that are lethal to pests and pathogens.

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