Wednesday, April 24, 2013

China: UN to support China in ending production of ozone-depleting substances by 2030

Ninety seven per cent of all ozone depleting substances controlled by the global treaty known as the Montreal Protocol have been phased out. Credit: UNEP

UN 23 April 2013 – With United Nations support, the Government of China has agreed to completely eliminate its industrial production of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 2030, the world Organization announced today.

In what it billed as a “landmark decision,” the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer announced that it would provide China, the largest global producer and consumer of HCFCs, with up to $385 million for the eradication of ODS production as well as for retiring its unutilized surplus production capacity.

“China will close and dismantle its production lines producing only HCFCs for uses controlled under the Montreal Protocol and ensure that any HCFC plants that will receive funding do not switch to producing HCFCs as industrial feedstock,” according to a press statement released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) which oversees the Montreal Protocol.

“China will also coordinate with stakeholders and make best efforts to manage HCFC production and associated by-product production in HCFC plants in accordance with best practices to minimize associated climate impacts.”

The Montreal Protocol aims to protect the ozone layer by taking measures to control total global production and consumption of substances that deplete it, with the ultimate objective of their elimination. Since its ratification in 1987, it has successfully phased out 97 per cent of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer around the world.

In 2007, however, countries meeting in Canada, under the Montreal Protocol, agreed to speeding up the freeze and phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) – chemicals designed to replace the old, more ozone-damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

According to data provided by UNEP, China produces 92 per cent of the total HCFC production of developing countries with most of the chemicals supplied to the world’s refrigeration, air conditioning and foam manufacturing sectors but also utilized for solvents, fire protection, and the sterilization of medical devices.

Over the next four years, China will receive $95 million to cover the first stage of its HFC production phase-out to help the Asian country achieve the freeze in HCFC production by 2013 and the reduction by 10 per cent by 2015 as mandated by the Protocol.

Moreover, the Government of China estimates that the total amount of HCFCs to be eliminated by this new initiative will prevent the emission of over 4.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions.

China’s new push for HCFC elimination is not only potentially the largest project approved so far under the Protocol since its inception, but it is also key in paving the way for other developing countries to follow suit, the statement added.

“The phase-out of HCFC production in China is fundamental to ensure the compliance of all developing countries with the Montreal Protocol and the overall success of the Protocol.”