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Clean move

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Jan 31, 1999 | From the print edition
A move to limit the use of ozone-depleting substances is on the anvil

participants at the 10th Meeting of the Parties to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which was held from November 16-24, 1998, in Cairo, Egypt, came up with recommendations to combat the substances that deplete the ozone layer. The delegates called for a reduction of certain chemicals that were earlier not in the phase-out list of the Montreal Protocol.

Substitutes for Chlorofluorocarbons ( cfc s) such as Hydro fluorocarbons ( hfc s) and Perfluorocarbons ( pfc s) were urged under the Montreal Protocol. But in the December 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the climate convention, these were actively discouraged. Recent studies reveal that emissions from cfc s and pfc s contribute to climate change.

Parties in Cairo agreed that the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel ( teap ) should provide relevant information on hfc s and pfc s to the climate convention secretariat by July 1999.

Twenty-nine countries and the European Commission called upon all bodies of the Montreal Protocol not to support the use of Hydrochlorofluoro-carbons ( hcfc s) when more environment-friendly alternatives are available. Parties observed that this environmental conundrum must be addressed as developing countries begin to phase-out cfc, and look for available substitutes.

teap was also asked to assess the quantity of cfc s that would be required by developing countries for the period 1999-2010, and the quantities which need to be produced and exported by developed countries.

An important decision of the 10th meeting was to list 25 applications in which ozone-depleting substances ( ods) may be used as 'process' agents (substances that are captured, recycled, and reused in closed chemical production systems). It was decided that developed countries could continue to use ods in these 25 applications till the year 2001, after which they would have to be phased-out. Developing countries have been exempted from the phase-out, but were advised to limit their use, in order to be eligible for exemption beyond the year 2000.

Interestingly, both developing and developed countries agreed to ban new facilities using these process agents from June 1999. This decision is to ensure that multinational firms do not move production facilities from industrialised countries to developing countries.

Another cause of concern to the Parties was the increase in Halon emissions from existing fire-fighting equipments. Scientists at the meeting said that there was an increase in Halon 1202 in the atmosphere, but the source and the uses of this chemical are not known. It was pointed out that new Halon production in developing countries had gone up, though the gas has been phased-out in the developed countries.

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