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Montreal Protocol Parties Discuss HFC Management Issues and Agree to Continue Exploring Ways Forward

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Bangkok, 24 April 2015 – Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer discussed potential ways of reducing the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) during their thirty-fifth Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) meeting, dedicated to discussing HFCs, from 22 to 24 April in Bangkok, Thailand.

Following extensive discussions, the parties agreed to continue working intersessionally in the coming months to study the feasibility and ways of managing HFCs, including addressing related challenges, with a view to establishing a formal contact group at the thirty-sixth OEWG meeting scheduled for 20 to 24 July in Paris to further explore the issue.

The challenges to be addressed include energy efficiency, funding requirements, the availability of alternative technologies, safety of substitutes, performance and challenges in high-ambient temperatures, capacity-building, technology transfer, among other issues related to HFC management.

HFCs are man-made fluorinated chemicals that do not deplete the ozone layer but are potent greenhouse gases and many of them have high global-warming-potential. HFCs are used in the air conditioning, refrigeration, foam and aerosol sectors as replacements for many ozonedepleting substances, including chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), halons and hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs) being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

India recently submitted a proposal to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs, and Canada, Mexico and the United States have jointly submitted their revised amendment proposal as well. During the meeting, other parties expressed their plans to submit amendment proposals in the coming days. All the amendment proposals will be considered during the 27th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in November in Dubai.

The parties discussed a proposal on a process for regulating the production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, which was submitted by Zimbabwe and Senegal on behalf of African states, following the declaration by African environment ministers during the 15th Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment held in Cairo in March.

The parties also exchanged information on key issues for discussion towards a possible HFC management policy and legal framework under the Montreal Protocol, including: phase-down, taking into account HCFC phase-out; means to address sector- and country-specific challenges; strengthening existing means of implementation; and capacity-building, technology transfer, funding requirements and financial mechanism.

The 35th OEWG meeting was preceded by a two-day workshop on HFC management, during which more than 400 participants – Montreal Protocol parties, experts in the field and industry representatives – held in-depth discussions on all technical aspects related to HFC management, including a focus on high-ambient temperature and safety requirements as well as energy efficiency.

The workshop enabled participants to gain deeper insight into the status of the availability and challenges of low-global-warming-potential HFC alternatives, especially in refrigeration and air conditioning market sectors and sub-sectors.

The participants discussed challenges and opportunities in the areas of energy efficiency, costs and intellectual property rights, safety and flammability, high-ambient temperature, policy and regulatory frameworks and service sector training needs, as well as special challenges facing developing countries.

The Scientific Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol provided an overview of the abundance, trends and projection of HFCs in the atmosphere, noting that while levels of HFCs are currently low, they are projected to become relatively high by 2050, by which time they could represent 25 per cent of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions.

The Technology and Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol noted that projections in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector show rapidly growing demand in developing countries between 2015 and 2030, which will have a substantial and further increasing climate impact.

Notes for Editors:

For more information, please contact:

UNEP Newsdesk on Tel. +254 20 762 3088 / +254 731 666 214 unepnewsdesk@unep.org

UNEP Ozone Secretariat

http://ozone.unep.org

ozoneinfo@unep.org

Ozone Layer on Track to Recovery: Success Story Should Encourage Action on Climate

Ozone Hole

Nairobi/Geneva, 10 September 2014 (UNEP/WMO) - The Earth's protective ozone layer is well on track to recovery in the next few decades thanks to concerted international action against ozone depleting substances, according to a new assessment by 300 scientists.The Assessment for Decision-Makers, a summary document of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014, is being published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and is the first comprehensive update in four years.

The stratospheric ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Without the Montreal Protocol and associated agreements, atmospheric levels of ozone depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050. According to global models, the Protocol will have prevented 2 million cases of skin cancer annually by 2030, averted damage to human eyes and immune systems, and protected wildlife and agriculture, according to UNEP.

The phase-out of ozone depleting substances has had a positive spin-off for the global climate because many of these substances are also potent greenhouse gases. However, the assessment report cautions that the rapid increase in certain substitutes, which are themselves also potent greenhouse gases, has the potential to undermine these gains. The assessment also notes that there are possible approaches to avoiding the harmful climate effects of these substitutes.

"There are positive indications that the ozone layer is on track to recovery towards the middle of the century. The Montreal Protocol - one of the world's most successful environmental treaties - has protected the stratospheric ozone layer and avoided enhanced UV radiation reaching the earth's surface," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"However, the challenges that we face are still huge. The success of the Montreal Protocol should encourage further action not only on the protection and recovery of the ozone layer but also on climate. On September 23, the UN Secretary General will host Heads of State in New York in an effort to catalyse global action on climate. The Montreal Protocol community, with its tangible achievements, is in a position to provide strong evidence that global cooperation and concerted action are the key ingredients to secure the protection of our global commons," he added.

"International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. "This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of climate change. This latest assessment provides solid science to policy-makers about the intricate relationship between ozone and climate and the need for mutually-supportive measures to protect life on earth for future generations."

"Human activities will continue to change the composition of the atmosphere. WMO's Global Atmosphere Watch programme will therefore continue its crucial monitoring, research and assessment activities to provide scientific data needed to understand and ultimately predict environmental changes, as it has done for the past 25 years" said Mr Jarraud.

Key findings:

Actions taken under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer are enabling the return of the ozone layer to benchmark 1980 levels.

  • Under full compliance with the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980 benchmark levels- the time before significant ozone layer depletion- before the middle of the century in mid-latitudes and the Arctic, and somewhat later in the Antarctic.
  • The Montreal Protocol and associated agreements have led to decreases in the atmospheric abundance of gases, such as CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and halons, once used in products such as refrigerators, spray cans, insulation foam and fire suppression.
  • Total column ozone declined over most of the globe during the 1980s and early 1990s. It has remained relatively unchanged since 2000, but there are recent indications of its future recovery.
  • The Antarctic ozone hole continues to occur each spring and it is expected to continue occurring for the better part of this century given that ozone depleting substances persist in the atmosphere, even though their emissions have ceased.
  • The Arctic stratosphere in winter/spring 2011 was particularly cold, which led to large ozone depletion as expected under these conditions.

The climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol could be significantly offset by projected emissions of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) used to replace ozone depleting substances.

  • The Montreal Protocol has made large contributions toward reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. In 1987, ozone-depleting substances contributed about 10 gigatonnes CO2-equivalent emissions per year. The Montreal Protocol has now reduced these emissions by more than 90 per cent. This decrease is about five times larger than the annual emissions reduction target for the first commitment period (2008-2012) of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) do not harm the ozone layer but many of them are potent greenhouse gases. They currently contribute about 0.5 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions per year. These emissions are growing at a rate of about 7 per cent per year. Left unabated, they can be expected to contribute very significantly to climate change in the next decades.
  • Replacements of the current mix of high-GWP HFCs with alternative compounds with low GWPs or not-in-kind technologies would limit this potential problem.

The annual Antarctic ozone hole has caused significant changes in Southern Hemisphere surface climate in the summer.

  • Ozone depletion has contributed to cooling of the lower stratosphere and this is very likely the dominant cause of observed changes in Southern Hemisphere summertime circulation over recent decades, with associated impacts on surface temperature, precipitation, and the oceans.
  • In the Northern Hemisphere, where the ozone depletion is smaller, there is no strong link between stratospheric ozone depletion and tropospheric climate.

CO2, Nitrous Oxide and Methane will have an increasing influence on the ozone layer

  • What happens to the ozone layer in the second half of the 21st century will largely depend on concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide - the three main long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Overall, CO2 and methane tend to increase global ozone levels. By contrast, nitrous oxide, a by-product of food production, is both a powerful greenhouse gas and an ozone depleting gas, and is likely to become more important in future ozone depletion.

The Scientific Assessment Panel is expected to present the key findings of the new report at the annual Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, to be held in Paris in November 2014. The full body of the report will be issued in early 2015.

Notes for Editors:

The Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014 was prepared and reviewed by 282 scientists from 36 countries (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, People's Republic of China, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Togo, United Kingdom, United States of America, Zimbabwe.)

Co-Chairs of the ozone assessment are: Prof. Ayité Lô Nohende Ajavon, Université de Lomé, Togo; Prof. John Pyle, University of Cambridge and National Centre for Atmospheric Science, UK; Dr. Paul Newman, NASA/ Goddard Space Flight Center, USA; Prof. A.R. (Ravi) Ravishankara, Colorado State University, USA.

For more information, please contact:

At WMO:

Clare Nullis, Media Officer, Communications and Public Affairs, Tel: +41 (0)22 730 8478; e-mail: cnullis@wmo.int

Co-Chairs of the ozone assessment:

Prof. John Pyle, University of Cambridge and National Centre for Atmospheric Science UK; Tel: +44 1223 336473 or +44 7733446983

Dr. Paul Newman, NASA/ Goddard Space Flight Center, USA; Tel: +1 301 614 5985

Prof. A.R. (Ravi) Ravishankara, Colorado State University, USA; Tel: +1 970 491 2876

The pre-print version of the ADM can be downloaded here

Record Stratospheric Ozone Loss in the Arctic in Spring of 2011

Record Stratospheric Ozone Loss in the Arctic in Spring of 2011

GENEVA 5 APRIL 2011 (WMO) ­ Depletion of the ozone layer ­ the shield that protects life on Earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays ­ has reached an unprecedented level over the Arctic this spring because of the continuing presence of ozone­-depleting substances in the atmosphere and a very cold winter in the stratosphere. The stratosphere is the second major layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, just above the troposphere.

The record loss is despite an international agreement which has been very successful in cutting production and consumption of ozone destroying chemicals. Because of the long atmospheric lifetimes of these compounds it will take several decades before their concentrations are back down to pre­1980 levels, the target agreed in the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

Observations from the ground and from balloons over the Arctic region as well as from satellites show that the Arctic region has suffered an ozone column loss of about 40% from the beginning of the winter to late March. The highest ozone loss previously recorded was about 30% over the entire winter.

In Antarctica the so­called ozone hole is an annually recurring winter/spring phenomenon due to the existence of extremely low temperatures in the stratosphere. In the Arctic the meteorological conditions vary much more from one year to the next and the temperatures are always warmer than over Antarctica. Hence, some Arctic winters experience almost no ozone loss, whereas cold stratospheric temperatures in the Arctic lasting beyond the polar night can occasionally lead to substantial ozone loss.

Even though this Arctic winter was warmer than average at ground level, it was colder in the stratosphere than for a normal Arctic winter.

Unprecedented but not unexpected

Although the degree of Arctic ozone destruction in 2011 is unprecedented, it is not unexpected. Ozone scientists have foreseen that significant Arctic ozone loss is possible in the case of a cold and stable Arctic stratospheric winter. Stratospheric ozone depletion occurs over the polar regions when temperatures drop below ­-78°C. At such low temperatures clouds form in the stratosphere. Chemical reactions that convert innocuous reservoir gases (e.g. hydrochloric acid) into active ozone depleting gases take place on the clouds particles. The result is rapid destruction of ozone if sunlight is present.

Ozone depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, once present in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers, have been phased out under the Montreal Protocol. Thanks to this international agreement, the ozone layer outside the polar regions is projected to recover to its pre­1980 levels around 2030­-2040 according to the WMO/UNEP

Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion (see link below). In contrast, the springtime ozone layer over the Antarctic is expected to recover around 2045­-60, and in the Arctic it will probably recover one or two decades earlier.

Without the Montreal Protocol, this year’s ozone destruction would most likely have been worse. The slow recovery of the ozone layer is due to the fact that ozone depleting substances stay in the atmosphere for several decades. In the polar regions the drop in ozone depleting gases is 10% of what is required to return to the 1980 benchmark level.

Global Atmosphere Watch

“The Arctic stratosphere continues to be vulnerable to ozone destruction caused by ozone­ depleting substances linked to human activities,” said WMO Secretary­General Michel Jarraud. “The degree of ozone loss experienced in any particular winter depends on the meteorological

conditions. The 2011 ozone loss shows that we have to remain vigilant and keep a close eye on the situation in the Arctic in the coming years,” he said.

“WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch Network has many stations in the Arctic and helps us to obtain an early warning in case of low ozone and intense UV radiation.”

If the ozone depleted area moves away from the pole and towards lower latitudes one can expect increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation as compared to the normal for the season. As the solar elevation at noon increases over the next weeks, regions affected by the ozone depletion will experience higher than normal UV radiation. The public is recommended to stay informed through national UV forecasts.

It should be pointed out, however, that the UV radiation will not increase to the same intensity as one suffers in the tropical regions of the globe. The sun is still relatively low in the sky, and this limits the amount of UV radiation that passes through the atmosphere.

UV­-B rays have been linked to skin cancer, cataracts and damage to the human immune system. Some crops and forms of marine life can also suffer adverse effects.

Background:

The stratosphere is the second major layer of the atmosphere, above the troposphere and below the mesosphere. The stratosphere starts at about 10 km altitude and reaches up to an altitude of about 50 km. About 90% of the ozone in the atmosphere is found the stratosphere with the remaining 10% in the troposphere. The ozone in the stratosphere is called the ozone layer, which absorbs ultraviolet light and protects life on earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from

the sun. The ozone in the troposphere, and especially close to the ground, is unwanted because it is a corrosive gas that causes damage to vegetation and can harm lung function and irritate the respiratory system in humans and animals

Increased amounts of greenhouse gases lead to higher temperatures at the surface of the earth, but models show that the stratosphere at the same time will get colder. Therefore ozone scientists have foreseen that significant ozone loss can happen in the Arctic stratosphere. If the cold temperatures persist into spring, i.e. when the sun comes back after the polar night, ozone destruction speeds up. In Antarctica such conditions prevail every winter/spring season, whereas in the Arctic the variability from one year to the next is much larger. Large ozone loss is therefore not an annually recurring phenomenon in the Arctic stratosphere. While increased amounts of long­lived greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are expected to cause some cooling of the stratosphere in the long term, it cannot explain the large variations in temperature that is observed from one year to the next in the Arctic stratosphere.

Both satellite observations and coordinated launches of ozonesondes carried by weather balloons show us at which altitudes the ozone loss takes place. These measurements show that the ozone loss takes place between 15 and 23 km above the ground with an ozone minimum around 19­20 km. This coincides with the region of low temperatures below ­78°C. In this region more than 2/3 of the ozone has been destroyed so far. Measurements from the SCIAMACHY satellite instrument show record high amounts of the molecule OClO, a compound that takes part in ozone destruction. Satellite measurements of total ozone from OMI, GOME­2 and SCIAMACHY show a region of low ozone above the Arctic regions. As of late March the ozone poor region is shifted away from the pole and covers Greenland and Scandinavia.

The Vienna Convention to Protect the Ozone Layer came into force in 1985. Two years later the Montreal Protocol to phase out production and consumption of ozone­depleting products was signed. The Montreal Protocol has been reinforced on several occasions after 1987.

Images of total ozone column and vertical ozone profiles around the pole on March 30, developed by Finnish Meteorological Institute using satellite and ground based data, can be found at http://www.ava.fmi.fi/~jtammine/gomos_video.gif

The 2010 WMO/UNEP Scientific Assessment on Ozone Depletion is available at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/assessments/ozone/ with more details about the current state of the ozone layer and projections for the future.

WMO is the United Nations' authoritative voice on weather, climate and water

For more information, please contact at the WMO Communications and Public Affairs Office: Carine Richard­Van Maele, Chief, Tel: +(41 22) 730 8315; e­mail: cpa@wmo.int

Clare Nullis, Press Officer, Communications and Public Affairs, Tel: +(41 22) 730 8478; +( 41 79) 7091397 e­ mail: cnullis@wmo.int

WMO website: www.wmo.int

New Report Highlights Two-Way Link Between Ozone Layer and Climate Change

ozone tracking

Geneva/Nairobi, 16 September 2010 – International efforts to protect the ozone layer—the shield that protects life on Earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays—are a success and have stopped additional ozone losses and contributed to mitigating the greenhouse effect, according to a new report.

The executive summary of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2010 provides new information about the effects of climate change on the ozone layer, as well as the impact of ozone changes on the Earth’s climate.

The report was written and reviewed by some 300 scientists and launched on the UN International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. It is the first comprehensive update in four years.

The report reaffirms that the Montreal Protocol is working. “It has protected the stratospheric ozone layer from much higher levels of depletion by phasing out production and consumption of ozone depleting substances.”

Given that many substances that deplete the ozone layer are also potent greenhouse gases, the report says that the Montreal Protocol has “provided substantial co-benefits by reducing climate change.” In 2010, the reduction of ozone depleting substances as a result of the Montreal Protocol, expressed in CO2-equivalent emissions (about 10 Gigatonnes per year), were five times larger than those targeted by the first commitment period (2008-2012) of the Kyoto Protocol, the greenhouse emissions reduction treaty.

The report published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that an important remaining scientific challenge is to project future ozone abundance based on an understanding of the complex linkages between ozone and climate change.

Changes in climate are expected to have an increasing influence on stratospheric ozone in the coming decades, it says. “These changes derive principally from the emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, associated with human activities.”

Key findings on the ozone layer:

  • Over the past decade, global ozone and ozone in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is no longer decreasing but is not yet increasing.

  • As a result of the phase-out of ozone depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer outside the Polar regions is projected to recover to its pre-1980 levels some time before the middle of this century. The recovery might be speeded up by greenhouse gas-induced cooling of the upper stratosphere.

  • In contrast, the springtime ozone hole over the Antarctic is expected to recover much later.

  • The impact of the Antarctic ozone hole on surface climate is becoming evident, leading to

    important changes in surface temperature and wind patterns.

  • It is reaffirmed that at mid-latitudes, surface UV radiation has been about constant over the

    last decade.

  • In Antarctica large UV levels continue to be seen when the springtime ozone hole is large.

Key findings on ozone depleting substances and substitutes:
Many ozone depleting chemicals, such as CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), once present in products such as refrigerators and spray cans, have been phased out. Demand for replacement substances called HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) and HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) has increased. Many of these are powerful greenhouse gases.

  • Total emissions of HCFCs are projected to begin to decline in the coming decade due to measures agreed under the Montreal Protocol in 2007. But they are currently increasing faster than four years ago. The most abundant one, HCFC-22, increased more than 50% faster in 2007-2008 than in 2003-2004.

  • Abundances and emissions of HFCs are increasing at about 8% per year. HFC-23 is a byproduct of HCFC-22 production. Although it has no impact on the ozone layer it is more than 14,000 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director said: "This represents a further potential area for action within the overall climate change challenge. An international group of modellers working with UNEP recently concluded that current commitments and pledges linked with the Copenhagen Accord are unlikely to keep a global temperature rise to under 2°C by 2050. The gap between scientific reality and ambition is estimated to average around 4.7 Gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent per year--a gap that needs to be urgently bridged over the next decade or so if the 2°C target is to be met."


Commenting on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, he added: "Today's report underlines that action to protect the ozone layer has not only been a success, but continues to deliver multiple benefits to economies including on efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The contribution to combating climate change is one, but so are the direct benefits to public health. For without the Montreal Protocol and its associated Vienna Convention atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050. This in turn could have led to up to 20 million more cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataracts, not to speak of damage to human immune systems, wildlife and agriculture.”


“The ozone-hole issue demonstrates the importance of long-term atmospheric monitoring and research, without which ozone destruction would have continued unabated and might not have been detected until more serious damage was evident,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “The Montreal Protocol is an outstanding example of collaboration among scientists and decision-makers that has resulted in the successful mitigation of a serious environmental and societal threat.’’


“Human activities will continue to change the composition of the atmosphere. WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch programme will therefore continue its crucial monitoring, research and assessment activities to provide scientific data needed to understand and ultimately predict environmental changes on both regional and global scales,” said Mr Jarraud.


The Scientific Assessment Panel will present the Executive Summary of the new report at the next annual Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, to be held in Kampala, Uganda, from 8 to 12 November 2010.

The full body of the report will be available in early 2011.

The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer 16 September marks the signature date, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

For more information, please contact:


At WMO:
Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Communications and Public Affairs, Tel: +(41 22) 730 8315; +(41 79) 406 47 30 (cell); e-mail: cpa@wmo.int
Clare Nullis, Press Officer, Communications and Public Affairs, Tel: +(41 22) 730 8478; e-mail: cnullis@wmo.int
WMO website: www.wmo.int

At UNEP:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, Tel: +254 207 62 30 84, +254 (0) 733 632755 (cell); e-mail nick.nuttall@unep.org
Relevant links include http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/arep/gaw/ozone/index.html and www.unep.org/ozone/

Upgrading Ozone Layer Treaty to Assist in Combating Climate Change Key Issue at International Meeting in Egypt

Upgrading Ozone Layer Treaty to Assist in Combating Climate Change Key Issue at International Meeting in Egypt

21st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer

Nairobi/Port Ghalib, 2 November 2009 -- Accelerating the contribution of a treaty to protect the ozone layer towards meeting the climate change challenge will take place at the 21st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in the Red Sea resort of Port Ghalib, Egypt, from 4-8 November.

Representatives from over 190 countries attending the international conference will assess whether a group of synthetic gases known as hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) might be better controlled under the Montreal Protocol rather than the Kyoto Protocol, the climate change treaty.

The Montreal Protocol is the treaty established to phase-out chemicals that damage the stratospheric ozone layer, the protective shield that filters out harmful levels of the sun’s ultra violet rays.

Scientists estimate that if HFCs become the replacement chemicals of choice for another group of ozone-depleting substances, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), in refrigeration, mobile air conditioning units and foams over the coming decades, their contribution to global warming could rise sharply. Indeed, under one scenario, HFCs could by 2050 be contributing the equivalent of 45 percent of C02 emissions.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said: “The Montreal Protocol is without doubt one of the most successful multilateral environmental agreements. That success is underlined by the fact that for the first time in history, all countries in the world will be represented in Egypt as a result of the Montreal Protocol achieving universal ratification in 2009.”

“This universal support reflects not only the Montreal Protocol’s success in phasing out over 97 percent of the controlled substances that damage the ozone layer, but an understanding that this phase-out has also contributed in sparing the planet a significant level of global warming,” he added.

The meeting will have before them two amendments to bring these replacement chemicals under the ozone agreements. The first proposal is from Mauritius and the Federated States of Micronesia, and the second one from Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Marco González, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat said: “The 21st Meeting of the Parties will address important issues for the protection of  the ozone layer and related efforts to further contribute to mitigate climate change. The sound environmental management of existing banks of ozone depleting substances as well as the proposed amendments to address HFCs under the Montreal Protocol are clear signals of the Parties’ new initiatives to address both issues.”

Mr. Steiner noted that the increased use of HFCs as replacement chemicals now represent a new challenge in terms of climate change.  He added: “I look forward to a full and frank discussion on what countries consider the next steps and the best way forward to address these high global-warming potential gases. Port Ghalib must send a clear signal that nations are determined to rapidly find not only ozone-friendly but also climate friendly alternatives and to assist developing economies in accessing these.”

These discussions on the proposals come some four weeks before nations gather in the Danish capital city of Copenhagen for the crucial UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) talks.

Other Issues in Port Ghalib

Inhalers and CFCs

Under the Montreal Protocol, a global phase-out of chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) is scheduled to be completed by 31 December 2009. Some countries with older manufacturing facilities have sought exemptions for the continued use of pharmaceutical-grade CFCs in metered dose inhalers used by people with asthma until their factories have been upgraded to non-CFC manufacturing.

However, there is concern among some developing countries that sources of pharmaceutical-grade CFCs may disappear in 2010.

The meeting will consider various proposals to keep some supplies in place until all manufacturing facilities have been upgraded to making non-CFC inhalers.

Delegates will also examine the use of the pesticide methyl bromide in fumigating shipments around the world. While methyl bromide is controlled under the Montreal Protocol for use in locations such as farms, its use in quarantine and pre-shipment of, for example, wooden pallets falls outside the treaty.

Some governments and experts have become concerned that its uncontrolled uses may be contributing to harming the ozone layer.

Uncontrolled Use of Fumigants

The meeting in Port Ghalib will discuss new findings from the Montreal Protocol’s Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP). These indicate that consumption of methyl bromide for quarantine and pre-shipment purposes has averaged around 11,000 metric tonnes a year since 1995.

The workshop, being conducted in collaboration with the International Plant Protection Convention, will assess alternatives for treating shipments of grains, vegetables, logs and other materials.

Heat treatment and treatment using other non-ozone damaging fumigants may be available as alternatives to using methyl bromide.

Notes to Editors

The 21st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol will take place in Port Ghalib, Egypt from 4 to 8 November 2009. For more information and supporting documentation please visit http://www.unep.ch/ozone/Meeting_Documents/mop/21mop/index.shtml or

http://ozone.unep.org/Meeting_Documents/mop/21mop/index.shtml

The Large Contribution of Projected HFC Emissions to Future Climate Forcing: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences June 2009 http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/06/19/0902817106.full.pdf+html

For More Information:

Please Contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, tel: +254 733 632755, tel: +41 795965737 or e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Maria Saldanha, Ozone Secretariat Communications & Information Officer, tel: +254 713 601240, or e-mail: maria.saldanha@unep.org

Ozone Treaty Anniversary Gifts Big Birthday Present to Human Health and Combating of Climate Change

Ozone Hole

Timor-Leste Makes Montreal Protocol First Global Environmental Agreement to Achieve Universal Ratification

Nairobi, 16 September 2009--A treaty to protect the ozone layer, which shields all life on Earth from deadly levels of ultra violet rays, has scored a first in the history of international environmental agreements.

Today Mr. Xanana Gusmão, the Prime Minister of the young Pacific nation of Timor-Leste, announced that it had ratified the Montreal Protocol making this the first environmental agreement to achieve universal participation by 196 parties.

“Timor-Leste is very pleased to be joining the rest of the world in the fight against the depletion of the ozone layer and the effort towards its recovery. We are proud to be part of this important process to protect the ozone layer and undertake to implement and comply with the Montreal Protocol like all other States that preceded us in this important journey,” Mr. Gusmão said.

The historic announcement, made on the UN’s International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, is the latest in a rapidly evolving list of achievements for the ozone treaties.

The Montreal Protocol, established to phase-out the pollutants that were damaging the planet’s protective shield, will in just three months’ time have completely retired close to 100 chemicals linked with ozone damage.

Today, as the sun rises in Australasia swiftly onto Timor-Leste before setting on Hawaii, United States—one of the first nations to ratify—countries will be marking not only the recovery of the ozone layer. They will also be celebrating the unique contribution that the Montreal Protocol has, and is continuing to contribute, to combating other key challenges including climate change.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said:” The ratification by Timor-Leste makes this special day even more special and a signal that when the world fully and wholly unites around an environmental challenge there can be multiple and transformative effects”.

“Without the Montreal Protocol and its Vienna Convention, atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances would have increased tenfold by 2050 which in turn could have led to up to 20 million more cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataracts, not to speak of damage to human immune systems, wildlife and agriculture,” he added.

“Today we in addition know that some of the same gases contribute to climate change. By some estimates, the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances has since 1990 contributed a delay in global warming of some seven to 12 years underlining that a dollar spent on ozone has paid handsomely across other environmental challenges,” said Mr Steiner.

Marco González, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat which is hosted by UNEP, said the focus was now switching from the original gases such as chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) to their replacement gases known as HCFCs and HFCs for uses in refrigerators, foams and flame retardants.

In 2007 governments agreed to accelerate the freeze and phase-out hydrochloflurocarbons or HCFCs—explicitly for their climate change impacts.

The maximum benefits here are only likely to occur if this goes hand in hand with the introduction of more energy efficient equipment that can work with substances that have low or zero global warming potential.

The focus is now also rapidly shifting to hydroflurocarbons (HFCs). This year scientists, reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested that if these became the replacement substances of choice, the climate impacts could be serious.

The scientists argue that HFC use could climb sharply in the coming years in products such as insulation foams air conditioning units and refrigeration as replacements.

Conversely, rapid action to freeze and to cut emissions annually alongside fostering readily available alternatives could see HFC emissions fall to under one Gigatonne by 2050.

“Importantly, governments last year requested the Executive Secretaries of the Montreal Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to cooperate more closely on these issues and this was taken forward in 2009 in the spirit of One UN,” said Mr González.

In November in Port Ghalib, Egypt, governments will meet under the Montreal Protocol to chart the future directions for the treaty including its role in combating climate change.

Mr González emphasized that “this historic meeting, hosted by the Government of Egypt, will be the first to bring together the highest number ever of participating States for decision-making under an international treaty.”

These discussions will come just days before the key climate meeting in Copenhagen where nations are being urged to Seal the Deal on significant emissions reductions backed by support for adaptation for vulnerable countries and communities.

The story of the ozone layer also underlines that sustainably managing the environment is less costly and time-consuming than repairing damage once it has been done. Even with the swift and decisive action taken by governments under the Montreal Protocol, the Earth’s protective shield is likely to take another 40 years to 50 years to fully recover.

Note to Editors:

About the Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol focuses on the protection of the earth's ozone layer. This treaty has enabled both developed and developing countries to achieve a near total phase-out in the production and use of most ozone depleting substances.

Because the majority of ozone depleting substances are also potent global warming gasses, the actions taken under the Montreal Protocol have contributed significantly to the global effort to address climate change.

Interesting facts about the Montreal Protocol

  • The Montreal Protocol has achieved universal participation by all states in the world, the number of participating States is 196, an achievement unprecedented by any treaty;
  • It is estimated that without the Protocol, by the year 2050 ozone depletion would have risen to at least 50% in the northern hemisphere’s mid latitudes and 70% in the southern mid latitudes, about 10 times worse than current levels;
  • The Montreal Protocol is estimated to have prevented: 19 million more cases of non-melanoma cancer, 1.5 million more cases of melanoma cancer, 130 million more cases of eye cataracts
  • Ninety seven per cent of all ozone depleting substances controlled by the global treaty known as the Montreal Protocol have been phased out – but what remains is still a challenge to eliminate;
  • Global observations have verified that atmospheric levels of key ozone depleting substances are going down and it is believed that with implementation of the Protocol’s provisions the ozone layer should return to pre-1980 levels by 2050 to 2075;

In 2003, political recognition of the Protocol came in the statement of then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who termed the Montreal Protocol “perhaps the single most successful international environmental agreement to date”.

The Ozone Layer

The Ozone layer protects the earth’s inhabitants from harmful UV radiation and is essential for life on Earth, as it screens out lethal UV-B radiation. Increased UV-B from ozone depletion can lead to:

  • More melanoma and non-melanoma skin-cancers
  • More eye cataracts
  • Weakened immune systems – this may contribute to viral reactivation and a reduction of
  • effectiveness of vaccines
  • Reduced plant yields, changes in plant growth and form
  • Damage to ocean eco-systems and reduced fishing yields
  • Damage to wood and plastics

For additional information please visit the Ozone Secretariat website (ozone.unep.org) or contact: Nick Nuttall: Off. +254 20 7623084 Cel.+ 254 733632755 E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org
Maria Saldanha: Off. +254 20 7625129 Cel. +254 713601240 E-mail: maria.saldanha@unep.org

For the UN Secretary General message on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, please visit: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/sgsm12449.doc.htm

Record Stratospheric Ozone Loss in the Arctic in Spring of 2011

Record Stratospheric Ozone Loss in the Arctic in Spring of 2011

Governments Agree to Accelerated ‘Freeze and Phase-out” of Ozone and Climate- Damaging Chemicals at Montreal Protocol’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations

Montreal/Nairobi, 22 September 2007--An historic agreement to tackle the twin challenges of protecting the ozone layer and combating climate change has been agreed by governments.

Nations signed up to an accelerated freeze and phase out of substances known as hydrochlorflurocarbons (HCFCs) under the 20 year-old Montreal Protocol-- the UNEP treaty established in 1987 to protect the Earth’s ozone layer from chemical attack.

The decision, including an agreement that sufficient funding will be made available to achieve the strategy, follows mounting evidence that HCFCs contribute to global warming.

HCFCs emerged as replacement chemicals in the 1990s for in air conditioning, some forms of refrigeration equipment and foams following an earlier decision to phase-out older and more ozone-damaging chemicals known as CFCs or chloroflurocarbons.

Governments meeting in the Canadian city agreed at the close to freeze production of HCFCs in 2013 and bring forward the final phase-out date of these chemicals by ten years.

The acceleration may also assist in restoring the health of the ozone layer—the high flying gas that filters out damaging levels of ultra violet light—by a few years too.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, praised the decision taken at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Montreal Protocol calling it an ‘important and quick win’ for combating climate change.

“Historic is an often over-used word but not in the case of this agreement made in Montreal. Governments had a golden opportunity to deal with the twin challenges of climate change and protecting the ozone layer—and governments took it. The precise and final savings in terms of greenhouse gas emissions could amount to several billions of tonnes illustrating the complementarities of international environmental agreements,” he said.

Mr Steiner also congratulated the government of Canada and John Baird, the Canadian Environment Minister, for hosting a successful meeting.

He said the spotlight now moves to New York where, on 24 September, the UN Secretary- General Ban Ki Moon is hosting a Heads of State meeting on climate change.

The meeting will help to build confidence in the run up to the UN climate convention negotiations scheduled in Bali, Indonesia, in December. Here nations need to get down in earnest to negotiate an international greenhouse gas emissions reductions agreement to kick in post-2012.

Mr Steiner said:” I believe the agreement and the spirit of Montreal can build confidence in the United Nations as a platform for negotiating effective agreements for addressing the environmental challenges of our time”.

“Montreal underlines that when nations are united they can achieve a great deal and on multiple fronts. It also underlines how international treaties—in this case the UN’s Montreal Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change—can deliver far more when we build on the scientific consensus and mobilize the technological and economic means to act,” he added.

John Baird, Canada’s Environment Minister, added: “The Montreal Protocol, already considered the most successful environmental agreement to date, delivers once again, to protect the ozone layer as well as the most pressing issue of our time—climate change. Today’s announcement demonstrates the kind of concrete action citizens around the world are demanding”.

The Agreement on HCFCS

HCFCs, which also damage the ozone layer but less than CFCs, were always planned as interim substitutes and were due to be phased out in 2030 by developed countries and in 2040 by developing ones.

However in recent years and months mounting evidence has emerged on the growth in HCFCs and the potentially significant benefits arising in terms of combating climate change and ozone loss if an accelerated freeze and accelerated phase-out could be achieved.

Experts estimate that without this week’s agreement, production and consumption of HCFCs may have doubled by 2015 adding to the dual challenges of ozone depletion and climate change.

Here in Montreal six proposals were put before governments from both developed and developing countries. They represented a variety of options including the freeze dates; reduction steps towards a final and accelerated phase out.

Industry experts had indicated that, should an agreement be taken this week in Montreal, this would send a strong signal resulting in the rapid development of replacement chemicals and technologies.

The final agreement is a combination of the various options proposed by Argentina and Brazil; Norway and Switzerland; the United States; Mauritania, Mauritius and the

Federated States of Micronesia. Under the agreement, productions of HCFCs are to be frozen at the average production levels in 2009-2010 in 2013.

Developed countries have agreed to reduce production and consumption by 2010 by 75 per cent and by 90 per cent by 2015 with final phase out in 2020.

Developing countries have agreed to cut production and consumption by 10 per cent in 2015; by 35 per cent by 2020 and by 67.5 per cent by 2025 with a final phase-out in 2030.

It was also agreed that a small percentage of the original base line amounting to 2.5 per cent will be allowed in developing countries during the period 2030-2040 for ‘servicing’ purposes.

Essentially this means that some equipment, coming towards the end of its life such as office block air conditioning units, could continue to run on HCFCs for a few more years if needed.

The 191 Parties to the Montreal Protocol—190 countries plus the European Commission—also made an agreement on financing.

The Protocol’s financial arm—the Multilateral Fund—which to date has spent over $2 billion to assist developing country reductions comes up for replenishment next year. The new agreement takes into account the need for ‘stable and sufficient’ funds and the fact that there may be ‘incremental costs’ for developing countries under the accelerated HCFC freeze and phase out.

Governments agreed here to commission a short study by experts to fully assess the likely costs of the acceleration. They will report back early in 2008 and inform parties on the suggested sums required for the new replenishment.

Marco Gonzalez, Executive Secretary of UNEP’s Ozone Secretariat, said: “The progress achieved over 20 years and continued this week demonstrates to the world that developed and developing countries can work together to meet global challenges. Here this week numerous nations including China, India, the United States and the European Union, demonstrated the art of the possible and solidarity in advancing the international environmental agenda on both ozone and now increasingly on climate change”.

Other Important Decisions Taken at the 19th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol

Methyl bromide, a pesticide and ozone depleting substance, was meant to be fully phased-out by developed countries in 2005.

But ‘critical use exemptions’ have been granted because some farmers producing products such as strawberries and cucumbers to tomatoes and eggplants argue that alternatives are either not ready or cost effective for all circumstances.

In 2005, over 16,000 tonnes of methyl bromide were approved under the Montreal Protocol and in 2007 over 9,100 tonnes were permitted.

Here in Montreal, governments approved just over 4,600 tonnes continuing the downward trend in critical use exemptions for developed countries.

Notes to Editors

20th Anniversary Montreal Protocol web site http://www.unep.org/themes/climatechange/ozone/

For More Information Please Contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson. Before the Montreal meeting Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org . In Montreal, please telephone Mobile: +41 79 596 5737, E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org or rochdale58@yahoo.com

Environment Canada Media Relations Tel: (819) 934-8008 or 1-888-908-8008

New Report Projects Later Recovery of Ozone Layer

Ozone hole

BUT EARLY SIGNS OF MENDING CONFIRM EFFECTIVENESS OF MONTREAL PROTOCOL ON SUBSTANCES THAT DEPLETE THE OZONE LAYER

Geneva/Nairobi, 18 August 2006 – The Executive Summary of a new scientific assessment, released today by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and based on a full report prepared by over 250 international scientists, concludes among its findings that the stratospheric ozone layer that protects life on earth from excessive solar radiation will recover five to 15 years later than previously expected.

According to the “UNEP/WMO Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2006”, the updated scientific understanding indicates that the ozone layer over the mid-latitudes (30° - 60° North and South) should recover by 2049, five years later than anticipated by the previous (2002) assessment.

The ozone over the Antarctic should recover by 2065, 15 years later than once expected. Because of special conditions within the Antarctic vortex (a natural cyclone of super-cold, super-fast winds), the Antarctic ozone “hole” is expected to recur regularly for another two decades. The later projected date of recovery over the mid-latitudes is primarily the result of upward revisions in the amounts of CFC-11 and CFC-12 now contained in refrigerators and other equipment, from which much of both types will eventually be released, and from higher estimates of future production levels of HFCF-22 (a CFC substitute that, although much safer, still causes some depletion).

The later projected recovery of the Antarctic ozone layer is primarily due to the greater age of air in that region, which means that a return to pre-1980 levels of ozone depleting substances will take longer. This factor has been taken into consideration in the new assessment.

“While these latest projections of ozone recovery are disappointing, the good news is that the level of ozone-depleting substances continues to decline from its 1992-94 peak in the troposphere and late 1990s peak in the stratosphere,” said Mr. Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of WMO. “Global changes in climate suggest that atmospheric conditions are different today from those prior to periods marked by ozone depletion. This may have implications for ozone recovery. Maintaining and improving observational and assessment capabilities are critical in separating effects due to changes in climate from those in ozone–depleting substances and will play a major role in verifying the effectiveness of actions taken under the 1985 Vienna Convention, the 1987 Montreal Protocol and its amendments.”  

Among other findings, the new report states that the decline in stratospheric ozone outside of the polar regions seen in the 1990s has not continued. Model studies suggest that this is related to the near constancy of stratospheric ozone-depleting gases during this period.   Springtime polar ozone depletion continues to be severe in cold stratospheric winters and severe Antarctic ozone losses will very likely continue to be observed for at least the next 10-20 years because of the slow decline of ozone depleting gases.

Atmospheric abundances of ozone-depleting substances, which peaked in the lower atmosphere in the 1992-1994 time period, are now showing a downward trend in the stratosphere.  The report also updates information concerning very short-lived ozone-depleting substances, the current observations and future expectations of surface ultraviolet radiation, and the interrelations between climate and the ozone layer.

“The early signs that the atmosphere is healing demonstrate that the Montreal Protocol is working. But the delayed recovery is a warning that we cannot take the ozone layer for granted and must maintain and accelerate our efforts to phase out harmful chemicals”, said Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP.

The benchmarks for the recovery dates are the pre-1980 stratospheric levels of chlorine, the chief ozone-depleting gas. Lower chlorine levels should, in principle, correlate with increased ozone levels and reduced penetration of solar ultraviolet radiation to the earth. While recent measurements from unpolluted regions do show declines in ground-level ultraviolet radiation, climate changes and other variables make it difficult to draw firm conclusions.  

The report also evaluates options for accelerating the ozone layer’s recovery as well as circumstances that could delay recovery. It concludes that the hypothetical elimination of all emissions from production and existing equipment of CFCs, halons, HCFCs, methyl bromide, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform at the end of 2006 – a hypothetical case that goes beyond existing Protocol commitments – would advance recovery at mid-latitudes by 15 years to 2034.

On the other hand, a failure by Governments to implement fully their commitments to phase out ozone-depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol would delay recovery further. A delay would also result from the continued or expanded use of temporary exemptions to the phase-out schedules or of methyl bromide for quarantine and pre-shipment applications and critical uses.

The next annual Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, to be held in New Delhi from 30 October to 3 November, will consider the policy implications of the Executive Summary of the current report. The full body of the report, which was written and reviewed by over 250 experts from around the world, will be available in early 2007.

Note to journalists:

For additional information, please see ozone.unep.org or contact:

WMO –  Geir O. Braathen at +(41 22) 730 8235; +(41 79) 590 0718 (cell); e mail: gbraathen@wmo.int; or Mark Oliver, Press Officer, WMO Communications and Public Affairs at +(41 22) 730 8417; email: moliver@wmo.int . WMO website: www.wmo.int

UNEP – Michael Williams at +(41 22) 917 8242; +41-79-409-1528 (cell); email: michael.williams@unep.ch; or UNEP Spokesperson Nick Nuttall at +254 207 623084, +254 (0) 733 632755 (cell); email nick.nuttall@unep.org; or Elisabeth Waechter at +254 207 623088; Elisabeth.Waechter@unep.org.