United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Maximizing the climate-combating benefits of the ozone layer treaty key outcome of meeting

Treaties combating ozone layer damage and climate change can learn from each other in order to maximize economic and environmental benefits.  

The conclusion reflects growing understanding that the phase-out of chemicals that damage the ozone layer - the Earth’s protective shield - also has implications for the fight against global warming.  

The governments, meeting in Doha the capital city of Qatar , have requested the Executive Secretary of the Montreal Protocol ozone agreement to coordinate amongst others with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to explore closer, cooperative ties.  

They are requesting that the two treaties to hold meetings and explore several areas of cooperation including on how best to reduce releases of substances known as hydroflurocarbons (HFCs).  

HFCs, along with pollutants such as C02 and methane, are one of the six gases controlled under the climate convention’s Kyoto Protocol.  

In addition, governments are suggesting that mutual benefits can also come from an accelerated freeze and phase-out of hydrochluroflurocarbons (HCFCs).  

HCFCs are chemicals that were introduced to replace older, more ozone-damaging gases in products such as refrigerators and air conditioning units.  

But these replacement chemicals are now also scheduled for replacement and governments are keen to ensure that the new chemicals developed not only are ozone-friendly, but climate-friendly too.  

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme which hosts the Ozone Secretariat, said: ”In a world of scarce financial resources, maximizing the impacts of the various multi-lateral environmental agreements is paramount. Governments have made it clear that there can be multiple benefits if the experiences of the Montreal Protocol and the UN climate change convention can be better shared to reinforce mutual aims. UNEP looks forward to exploring how best these recommendations can be taken forward”.  

Maximizing benefits among environmental treaties was among the outcomes of the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and the 20th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol that concluded late last week in Doha .

Linked to the Montreal Protocol is a multilateral fund that assists developing countries to phase-out ozone damaging chemicals.  

Governments meeting in Doha agreed to replenish the fund by over $490 million for the period 2009 to 2001.  

How best to destroy ozone and climate-damaging chemicals, stored in old equipment such as air conditioning units and foams, was also part of the talks.  

Countries also urged the ozone treaty to work with funding organizations such as the Global Environment Facility to assess the most cost effective and rapid route to ridding the world of these stockpiled or ‘banked’ susbatnces.  

During the meeting various important announcements were made (see unep.org media centre) including the plan ro establish an ozone and climate monitoring station in Qatar - the first in West Asia and a move by the military from Australia, the Netherlands and the United States to assist developing countries with the destruction of banked ozone depleting substances.

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