Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

Smt. Kalpana Palkhiwala* The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed on 16th September, 1987 to protect the Ozone Layer. Since 1995, 16th September is celebrated every year as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer and commemorates the date of signing of the Montreal Protocol. This year the theme of celebration is “Ozone Layer Protection: Governance and Compliance at their Best”. The Montreal Protocol has been recognized as the most successful international environment treaty in history. Another testimony to its remarkable accomplishment is that all the countries have ratified this landmark agreement. This brings together the whole international community to protect the ozone layer. The Protocol was the culmination of decades of research, which established that chemicals released in the atmosphere could damage the ozone layer. A depleted Ozone Layer in the stratosphere allows the ultraviolet rays of the sun to reach the earth exposing mankind, flora and fauna to its harmful effects. According to the World Health Organization each year between 2-3 million skin cancers are detected worldwide and upto 20% of these may be caused or enhanced by sun exposure. Initially on the basis of very definite empirical findings, the Protocol enjoined upon all the signatory nations to completely phase out harmful chemicals such as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Halons and Carbon-tetrachloride (CTC) in a given time schedule. Later, other studies have brought more chemicals such as Hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and Methyl bromide under the ambit of the Protocol for phasing out within the given deadlines. In the twenty years operation of the Montreal Protocol, has led to complete phase-out of production and consumption of several Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) which has not only helped to protect the ozone layer, but also immensely benefited the global climate system. This is an unique year in the history of the Montreal Protocol when 1st day of 2010 was marked as an important milestone, the complete phase-out of production and consumption of major ODSs like CFCs, CTC and halons globally. India, being a Party to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol, has been sharing the global concern for protecting the Ozone Layer and to phase out ODS like CFC, Halons, CTC, Methyl chloroform, Methyl bromide and HCFCs. These chemicals are used in industrial and pharmaceutical aerosols, refrigeration and air-conditioning equipments, foam manufacturing, fire extinguishing equipment, metal-cleaning, garment cleaning, soil fumigation and quarantine and pre-shipment applications etc. Since 1993 with the continued efforts made by stakeholders responsible for implementation of the Montreal Protocol activities, India, as of 1st January 2010, had successfully phased-out completely the production and consumption of CFCs, CTC and halons except the use of pharmaceutical grade CFCs in manufacturing of Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs) for treatment of Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other respiratory ailments. India also proactively ceased the production of CFCs from 1st August, 2008, 17 months ahead of schedule of the Montreal Protocol. This smoothly followed the phase-out of consumption of CFCs. However, adequate steps were taken to ensure the supply of pharmaceutical grade CFCs for the critical sector, manufacturing of MDIs continue to serve millions of Asthma and COPD patients in our country through Essential Use Nomination (EUN) provisions of the Protocol especially during the transition period between 2010 and 2013. Recognizing the success of the Montreal Protocol in phasing out the ODSs like CTC, CFC and halons, the 19th Meeting of the Parties (MOP) had taken a decision to advance the phase-out of HCFCs from 2040 to 2030. The baseline for production and consumption of HCFCs will be determined on the average of the years 2009 and 2010 for production and consumption respectively. The freeze will be from 2013 and 10% reduction from the baseline in 2015 for stage–I reduction as per the accelerated phase-out schedule. The HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) is being prepared in close cooperation with the industry, concerned industry associations, research institutions, institutional user organizations, NGOs etc. The Sectoral Working Groups Meeting was organized in September 2009. Based on the outcome of the meeting, a Roadmap to Phase-out HCFCs in India was developed. The Roadmap was launched by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests (Independent Charge), Shri Jairam Ramesh in October 2009. The preparation of HPMP for Stage-I is in advance stage and is likely to be completed by the end of this year for consideration and approval of the Ex-Com of the Multilateral Fund (MLF) to phase-out HCFCs in India. The Government has also taken a number of policy measures, both fiscal and regulatory, to encourage early adoption of new technologies by existing and new enterprises. Customs and Excise duty exemption is granted on capital goods required to implement ODS phase out projects funded by the MLF and these physical incentives are also extended for new industrial establishments and expansion of existing capacities using non-ODS technologies. The Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 regulating ODS production, consumption and trade have also been put in place. *Deputy Director( M & C), Press Information Bureau, New Delhi

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