UNEP launches ozone-depleter phase-out initiative

The United Nations Environment Programme has launched a major initiative to help developing countries phase out ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

The initiative comprises a number steps to significantly reduce the use of Cholorofluorocarbons (CFCs) around the world. UNEP’s US$ 7 million business plan will step up assistance to developing countries to enable them to meet their obligations under the Montreal Protocol. Some US$ 30 million will be given to CFC-reduction projects in developing countries. To date, more than US$ 900 million have been allocated to such projects. 1999 is the year when the grace period given to developing countries to start phasing out CFCs comes to an end.

Of note is UNEP’s decision to approve, at a cost of US$ 150 million, the closure, over the next 10 years, of all CFC-producing facilities in China – the largest producer of this substance in the world. This project also includes implementation of a policy-setting training programme for all local environmental protection bodies.

The Committee also approved projects for the terminal phase-out plans for the Bahamas, Malaysia and Thailand – three countries, which are preparing themselves to phase out ODS earlier than the deadline stipulated in the Montreal Protocol.

“These critical decisions made by the Committee give a clear signal to all industries, which are using CFCs to quickly convert to alternatives”, says UNEP’s Executive Director, Mr. Klaus Toepfer. “It also raises the need to ensure that refrigerators and other CFC-based equipments shall be able to be serviced without CFCs”.

While the programmes of countries which consume large amounts of CFCs are well underway, the programme for countries which have low volume consumption (LVC) needs to be intensified. Plans for licensing, legislation and regulation systems are being implemented by LVCs through the committed participation of governments, technicians and consumers. UNEP is assisting more than 25 small countries in preparing and implementing such plans.

The Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol has also developed and supported innovative approaches of Refrigerant Management Plans where LVCs follow the integrated strategy of containment of leakage, conservation and recycling of CFCs.

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