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Governments strengthen controls on methyl bromide, illegal chlorofluorocarbon trade

Nairobi/Montreal, 18 September 1997 - Some 110 Governments attending the ninth Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer have agreed to tighten restrictions on several destructive chemicals.

The Meeting agreed on a phase-out schedule for methyl bromide, a fumigant that until now was the most important ozone-depleting substance whose phase-out by developing countries had not yet been established. It also set up a licensing system to help Governments track international trade in chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other controlled substances and discourage illegal sales.

"We have succeeded in maintaining the Montreal Protocol's momentum by adding important new protections for the ozone layer", said the Meeting's President, Dr. Won-Hwa Park of Korea. "We need to follow up now with strong enforcement of these new commitments."

Under the methyl bromide agreement, the phase-out by developed countries, previously set at 2010, has been moved up to 2005 with exemptions for "critical uses" and interim reductions of 25 per cent by 1999, 50 per cent by 2001, and 70 per cent by 2003. Developing countries, previously committed only to a freeze by 2002, have agreed to a 20 per cent four-year average of 1995-1998 as the base year for calculating the phase-out; the interim reduction schedule will be reviewed in 2003.

In addition to the US$10 million agreed last year for funding demonstration projects testing the feasibility of methyl bromide alternatives, the Multilateral Fund will make $25 million per year available in both 1998 and 1999 for activities to phase out methyl bromide in developing countries. Starting one year after the agreement enters into force, Parties will ban trade in methyl bromide with non-Parties.

The new licensing system for controlling trade will be based on licences issued by Parties for each import and export and on regular information exchange between Parties. This will enable customs and police officials to track trade in CFCs and to detect unlicensed trade. The system will become effective at the start of 2000.

Another decision adopted by the Meeting requests developed countries to consider banning the sale of their stockpiles of virgin CFCs anywhere in the world, except for meeting the "basic domestic needs" of developing countries or for exempted "essential uses". This is important for preventing these stocks from entering the black market.

Proposals by the European Community and Switzerland to accelerate the phase-out of the consumption of HCFCs and to introduce production control were not accepted. These countries made a declaration urging that the issue be revisited at a future meeting.

The Meeting of the Parties took place from 15-17 September and was attended by ministers and some 800 participants in total. It was preceded by the Open-ended Working Group which prepared for the Meeting from 8-12 September. The MOP also marked the tenth anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, which was signed in Montreal on 16 September 1987; the ceremony included the presentation of 23 "ozone awards" to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to ozone protection, including scientists, decision makers, technology experts, and environmentalists.

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Michael Williams,
Information Unit for Conventions, Geneva
at (+41-22) 979 9242/44, fax (+41-22) 797 3464,
Mr. K. Madhava Sarma, Cordinator, Ozone Secretariat, Nairobi
at (+254-2)623851, fax (+254-2) 226886,
Mr.Rajendra M. Shende, Coordinator, OzonAction Programme, Paris
at (+33-1) 44371459, fax (+33-1) 44371474,
Mr. Tore J. Brevik, Director, Information and Public Affairs,
Nairobi at
(+254-2) 623292, fax (+254-2) 623692,

UNEP News Release 1997/56

Thursday 18 Sep 1997
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