Montreal Protocol aims early phase-out of HCFCs

Published: Wednesday 31 October 2007

HCFCs will soon be off the mar the phase-out period of chemicals that harm the ozone layer will now be faster. The 19th meeting of parties to the Montreal Protocol has reduced the phase-out period by a decade: for developed countries the deadline is 2020, and for developing countries it is 2030.

The new deadline was signed by 190 countries and the European Commission.

The meeting held in the last week of September in Montreal, Canada, noted that the decision was triggered by studies saying that hydrochlorofluorocarbons (hcfcs) significantly contribute to global warming as well as damage the ozone layer. Since 1970s, when anthropogenic gases like chlorofluorocarbons (cfcs were found depleting the ozone layer, efforts have been made to curb their use. The chemicals are widely used in cooling equipments. Montreal Protocol which came into force on January 1, 1989, is the prime international treaty in this regard. Experts say the use of hcfcs may have doubled by 2015 in the absence of the protocol. "The final savings in terms of greenhouse gas emissions could amount to several billions of tonnes," said Achim Steiner, director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

However, there are many challenges ahead, say experts, some of them being the replacement choice for hcfcs, as well as checking illegal trade of ozone depleting substances.

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