Montreal to Kigali: A journey towards saving the planet


Today we celebrate the World Ozone Day 2020 with the theme ‘ozone for life – 35 years of ozone layer protection’ as elsewhere in the world is observed every year globally on 16 September to create mass awareness about the importance of ozone layer protection. This year, we celebrate 35 years of the Vienna Convention and 35 years of global ozone layer protection. UN Secretary General António Guterres quoted that “As we rightly focus our energies on tackling climate change, we must be careful not to neglect the ozone layer and stay alert to the threat posed by the illegal use of ozone-depleting gases”.

Ozone protects our planet by absorbing the harmful ultra-violet (UV) radiation emitting from the sun by forming Ozone layer in the stratosphere. It is a gas naturally present in two regions of the atmosphere i.e., in troposphere and stratosphere. The large amount of ozone in the stratosphere is often referred to as the Ozone Layer. The depletion of ozone layer allows UV radiation to enter into the earth’s atmosphere that has profound impacts on human health, marine ecosystem, food chain, global warming and climate change. Its depletion reduces the amount of ozone in stratosphere but increases in the troposphere where ozone is considered as a pollutant and a greenhouse gas (GHG).

The major ozone depleting substances (ODSs) arechlorofluorocarbon (CFC), halons, methylbromide (MBr), carbontetrachloride (CTC), methylchloroform (MCF), hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), hydrobromofluorocarbon (HBFC), etc. The ODS are mainly used in refrigeration and air conditioning appliances, foam production, cleaning solvents, process agents, propellant, fire protection, aerospace, electronics, agriculture, and laboratory measurements, etc.

The first clear sign of damage to the ozone layer in the stratosphere were reported in 1985 by the British Antarctic Survey Team which had been measuring ozone levels over the Antarctic since 1957. In the same year the world adopted the non-binding “Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer”. It was later in 1987 when world leaders got themselves united in 1987 by adopting the legally binding Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer by phasing out of the ODSs.

Key achievements

Bangladesh ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and since then took lots of credible actions and achieved remarkable progress for successfully phase out of ODS. Bangladesh accessed the Montreal Protocol and Vienna Convention on 2nd August 1990 and ratified London, Copenhagen, Montreal, Beijing in 1994, 2000, 2001 and2010 respectively. Bangladesh has implemented more than two dozen of projects to phase out ODS with financial support from the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund and technical support from the Department of Environment and the UNDP.

Bangladesh’s commitment and decisive actions to achieve the goals of the Montreal Protocol are laudable. The country achieved 100% phasing out of CFCs, CTC, MCF, Halons, MBr from all sectors. Bangladesh is the first developing country to phase-out HCFC-141b in the manufacturing of insulation foam as a foam blowing agent and thus in compliance with the Montreal Protocol obligation.

In 2004, Bangladesh promulgated the National Ozone Depleting Substances (Control) Rules and later amended it in 2014.

Bangladesh achieved all the reduction target set in Montreal Protocol schedule successfully for which UN Environment awarded the ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ to the GoB on November 2017 in Montreal.

Bangladesh returned to state of compliance by phasing-out CFCs from aerosol and reduced consumption of ODSs in pharmaceutical sector by over 50%. In January 2010, CFCs from the commercial and servicing sector, CTC and MCF from solvent sector etc. were phased out. CFCs use in the manufacturing of metered-dose inhaler in the country and HCFC-141b in the production of insulation foam in refrigerator sector were phased-out in January 2013.

A public-private partnership project with technical assistance from the Department of Environment and UNDP and executed by the Walton Hi-Tech Industries Ltd phased-out non-ODS but high global warming potential chemical HFC in the manufacturing of refrigerators has been successfully implemented which phased out about 230.63 MT of HFC-134a per annum which translated to 329,801 Tons CO2-equivalent emission reduction. This project also saved 42 million KWH electricity per annum through energy efficiency improvement in the product.

Bangladesh has ratified the Kigali Amendment on 8 June 2020 which entered into force on 6 September 2020. The global average temperature is projected to rise by 2°C at the end of this century and it is estimated that gradual phase down of HCFCs and HFCs could avoid up to 0.5°C of global warming. Hence, phase down of HCFCs and HFCs creates the single largest opportunity to reduce the global warming while achieving the target set in Paris Climate Agreement.

Country is about to start HCFC Phase out Management Plan-II (HPMP-II) project which will help to further phase out of ODS through conversion of technologies in the domestic air-conditioners manufacturing and chiller sector. The govt. envisages the adoption of non-ODS and low-global warming potential alternatives in air conditioner and chiller sector and aims to reduce 17.09 ODP tons of HCFC (1.7 million tons of CO2-equivalent) emissions from this project. Total 67.5% HCFC will be phased out by 2025. According to the treaty, country will reduce HCFC consumption by 97.5% by 2030 under the follow-up project (HPMP-III) and within 2040 rest of the HCFC consumption under HPMP-IV. The country is now formulating National Cooling Plan to reduce emission from cooling sector. We should congratulate the Government of Bangladesh for this – not just for its action in Bangladesh but also for being a committed vocal advocate at the international stage.

Policy implications

Although there is a dedicated National Ozone Unit (NoU) at the Department of Environment, it does not have any revenue funded permanent staff to administer the activities of the unit. At present the NoU is managed by the project support. So, the government should consider creating a permanent position at the DoE to manage NoU and to monitor the ODS related compliance and global commitment under the Montreal Protocol.

Capacity of the key institutions like Department of Environment, Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institutions, Bangladesh Customs, and National Board of Revenue needs to be enhanced in the areas of standard and labelling, certification, data reporting system, management of illegal import of ODS, energy efficiency and conversion technology, etc.

Awareness raising and capacity building of private sector stakeholder is also required on data reporting, green and safe technology, conversion technology, workers occupational health and safety, etc. Moreover, concessional finance is required to promote green and safe cooling industry which will bring environment, social, economic and climate benefit in the long run.

Bangladesh lacks from a licensing system for HFCs. Besides, there are no specific harmonized system (HS codes) for different HFCs and HFC containing mixtures. Moreover, as an Article 5 Group I country, base year for HFC consumption will be determined on the basis of average consumption of 2020, 2021 and 2022. We are already are in the middle of 2020. So, it is utmost important to amend the existing ODS Rules and introduce standard licensing system within 2ndJanuary 2021.

The way forward

In 2014, the scientists reported that ozone hole recovered and predicted that the world is on the right track to repairing the ozone layer to pre-1980 levels by the middle of this century. They also estimated that the Montreal Protocol has avoided around 135 Giga-tones of CO2-equivalent globally. It is also expected to prevent the emissions of up to 105 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent of greenhouse gases, helping to avoid up to 0.5 degree of global temperature rise by 2100 – a truly unparalleled contribution to climate mitigation efforts, and the single largest contribution the world has made towards keeping the global temperature rise “well below” 2 degree, a target agreed at the Paris Climate Agreement. The achievement shows that collective decisions and action, guided by science-backed policy, are the only way to solve major global crises. The slogan of the day, ‘Ozone for life’, reminds us that not only is ozone crucial for life on earth, but that we must continue to protect the ozone layer for future generations and for the existence of this livable planet.

The writers of this article are working at UNDP Bangladesh. The views expressed here are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of their employer.

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