By Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, has said that Pakistan would continue to support global efforts and contribute to protect human health and environment by completely phasing out the use of ozone-layer-depleting substances (ODSs) in the country and replacing them with more effective and environmentally-safer alternatives in line with the Montreal Protocol.
“The country has been at the forefront in its endeavours to phase out use of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) Because, ridding the world of 13 different ozone-depleting substances (ODSs), including hydro-chloro-fluoro-carbons (HCFC) and chloro-fluoro-carbons (CFC), is critical to protecting the ozone layer, which protects all life on earth from adverse fallouts of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and its spill-over effect of environment,” the minister emphasised while addressing the high-level ministerial segment of the Joint 11th Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and 29th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol held in Montreal, Canada.
Environment and climate change ministers from around over 197 developing and developed countries attended ministerial round table discussions on the theme “Montreal Protocol at 30: Identifying future opportunities and priorities” on November 23-24, after the opening of the high-level segment of the meeting on November 23.
One year after they reached a landmark agreement (the Kigali Amendment) to phase down climate-warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the 197 developed and developing country parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer met in Montreal, Canada, to enhance their efforts to protect the ozone layer and to mitigate climate change.
Among the issues the parties will consider are: the funding level for the replenishment of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol for the 2018 to 2020 triennium to support developing countries in their efforts to continue the phase-out of ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and to initiate enabling activities for the phase-down of HFCs.
The Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan told the ministers from 197 countries during the high-level meeting that as the world marks the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol this year, there is a lot of good news to celebrate.
“It is truly heartening to note that the Protocol has led to the phase-out of over 99 per cent of nearly 100 ozone-depleting chemicals and significantly contributed to climate change mitigation. As of today, the ozone layer is showing signs of healing and is set to recover by the middle of the century. And Pakistan is very much part of the efforts that have led to the phase-out,” the minister explained, smilingly.
The Montreal Protocol, considered to be the most successful global environmental agreement setting out commitments by every country in the world to eliminate production and use of chemicals which damage the ozone layer.
The Protocol has contributed significantly to the mitigation of climate change by averting more than 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (as some ozone-depleting substances are also powerful greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere from 1990 to 2010.
And as a result of ozone protection efforts under the Protocol, up to 2 million cases of skin cancer may be prevented globally each year by 2030.
Mr. Khan said as the world marks the 30th anniversary of the Protocol this year, there is a lot of good news to celebrate. The Protocol has led to the phase-out of more than 99 per cent of nearly 100 ozone-depleting chemicals and significantly contributed to climate change mitigation. As of today, the ozone layer is showing signs of healing and is set to recover by the middle of the century.
While explaining further the contribution of Pakistan, Mushahidullah Khan said that after successfully phasing out the first generation of ODSs in Pakistan as a part of global efforts to mitigate climate change the country is now in the process of phasing out HCFCs altogether.
“In phase-I of the Hydrofluorocarbons Phase-Out Management Plan (HPMP), we have almost phased out HCFCs from all our major foam industry. In fact we have phased out 80 tons of Ozone depletion potential (ODP) of HCFC-141b and replaced it with cyclopentane, which is climate and environmental-friendly alternative substance HCFCs.”
“Moreover, the second phase of the HPMP is ready for launching and we hope to expedite this phase with the help of the multilateral funding opportunities and its partner implementing agencies and cooperation with all stakeholders,” the climate change minister said further.
He highlighted that although Pakistan does not manufacture any of the Ozone Depleting Substances, the country has a strict regulatory regime to check imports of these substances, with a system of licensing and quotas for import of HCFCs in place.
Besides, the country is also in process of introducing some additional regulations to streamline future use of substances and equipment in industry, Mushahidullah Khan added.
The climate change minister also highlighted that phasing out HCFCs from major industrial concerns in Pakistan was less complex, but the difficult part lies ahead, which is phasing out HCFCs from smaller enterprises and the servicing sector. Because, the servicing sector is more informal and unwieldy and would require more concerted efforts than the initial phase, given the fact that options on alternatives are limited and expensive.
The minister said that Pakistan is amongst the top-10 most climate-vulnerable countries and is threatened in many ways, inter-alia, through glacier melting, low crop productivity, scorching summer temperatures, prolonged heat spells, drought and extreme precipitation.
“However, Pakistan is more concerned about the climate-altering emissions at the global level and has been pro-actively part to help the world get rid of all the global warming gases but would prefer to achieve this without compromising on principles and transparency,” Mushahidullah Khan cautioned the world leaders.