EU achieves some success at Beijing ozone meeting but progress is slow

The EU's attempts to extend controls and phase-outs of ozone depleting substances (ODS) at a recent meeting on protection of the ozone layer were partially successful. Environmental organisations attending the Beijing meeting were critical of the overall lack of progress.

The agreed package, based on EU proposal, for further ODS controls includes:

  • production controls on HCFCs, a substitute for the banned CFCs, that will see a production freeze from 2004 for non Article 5 countries and a freeze in 2016 for Article 5 (or developing) countries
  • listing of bromochloromethane as a controlled substance and its phase out by 2002, with an exemption for ‘essential uses’
  • ban on trade in HCFCs with non Montreal Protocol countries from 2004
  • required reporting of quarantine and pre-shipment use of methyl bromide quantities to the Montreal Protocol Secretariat
  • phase-out of production allowances of CFCs, halons, other fully-halogenated CFCs and methyl bromide for countries seeking to fulfil Article 5 requirements

Despite the EU’s success in securing agreement on some of its proposals (see related story), several environmental NGOs were dismayed by what they see as slowdown in international momentum to protect the ozone layer from ODS. Friends of the Earth’s representative termed the meeting the least successful thus far and the Israel Economic Forum for the Environment stated at the Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol no longer has the will or power to repeat its initial successes in freezing and phasing-out new ODS.

Replenishment of the Multilateral Fund that finances developing countries’ efforts to phase out ODS was agreed at $477,700,000 for 2000-2002. This is higher than the $300 million level proposed by several developed countries at the outset of the talks, but lower than the previous allocation of funds.

Earth Negotiations Bulletin, which provided daily coverage of the meeting, acknowledged the shortcomings of the meeting. In its summing-up edition, the Bulletin concluded: “With the meeting being held in Beijing, a city of countless cyclists, it is not hard to envisage the Montreal Protocol at its inception as a brand new bicycle with a big basket to carry items picked up along the way. From this week’s meeting, it is clear that the bicycle needs a new basket, as its current one is reaching capacity and parties are finding it difficult to deal with the ever-increasing number of ODS”.

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