Press releases

Monday 07 Dec 1998

Statement by Mr. Klaus Toepfer at the Tenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol

Cairo, 23 November 1998 - Your Excellency, Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, Mr. Youssef Wally, Deputy Prime Minister, Mrs. Nadia Makram Ebeid, Minister of State for the Environment, Mr. Ibrahim Abdul Gelil, excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

I am deeply honoured to be in Cairo today to address the Tenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. This historic city of Cairo is symbolic of a unique culture and ethos. It has thrived on diversity. It has assimilated the best influences from wherever they come without losing its identity.

I would like to quote from Mrs. Mubarak's acceptance speech for the 1998 Prize of Tolerance awarded to her by the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg. She said: "Tolerance is an integral part of our Egyptian national character. It is deeply rooted in the cultural heritage, traditions and values of our society since the dawn of history. Egypt has been the crossroads between North and South, East and West and was also a meeting point for the great religions, thus serving as a perfect catalyst for different civilizations and a melting point for various cultures." We are privileged that Mrs. Mubarak is with us today.

We are honoured by the presence here of Mr. Ibrahim Abdul Gelil, Chief Executive of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, Mrs. Nadia Ebeid, Minister of State of the Environment and Dr. Youssef Wally, the Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt. We appreciate their taking time off from their busy schedules to be with us. I recognize the presence of my dear friend Dr. Mostafa Tolba. Everyone recognizes his historic role in the protection of the ozone layer.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that UNEP is conferring a global ozone award today on Dr. Mostafa Tolba. The award is for his outstanding contribution for the protection of the ozone layer.

Excellencies,

The success of the Montreal Protocol is now universally acclaimed. Its success is through he focused implementation of the ozone agreements by the Governments. UNEP marshalled the evidence for the causes of the depletion of the ozone layer. It catalyzed awareness and provided a platform to the Governments for common action. The scientists provided the facts and suggested options for action. The technologists and the industry provided the solutions. The NGOs raised the alarm and also formed strategic alliances with the industry to promote the protection of the ozone layer.

The results of the last ten years are commendable. The industrialized countries have almost phased out their consumption of the CFCs. They have reduced their consumption from 1 million tonnes in 1986 to about 15,000 tonnes for permitted essential uses in 1996. In fact, the consumption of the entire world has come down by more than 80 per cent as a result of the implementation of the ozone treaties.

However, this is no time for complacency.

You are all aware of the main conclusions of the Scientific Assessment Panel. The Scientific Panel concluded that the total abundance of the ozone depleting substances in the lower atmosphere peaked in 1994 and is now slowly declining. Total concentration of chlorine is declining. But total concentration of bromine is still increasing. This is because of halons banked in fire fighting appliances and the new production of halons in some areas of the world.

The maximum ozone depletion will occur within the current and the next two decades. The ozone layer is predicted to recover by the year 2050, if all countries fully implement the Protocol.

If there were no Montreal Protocol, the effective chlorine loading by the year 2050 would have been at least 17 parts per billion, about five times larger than today's values. This would have led to ozone depletion of at least 50 per cent at mid latitude in the Northern Hemisphere and 70 per cent at mid latitude in the Souther Hemisphere, about 10 times larger than today. The additional incidence of skin cancer cases would have been about 20 million.

The ozone hole over the Antarctic has reached an area of 26 million square kilometres. This is an area larger than all of North America. This is nearly 1/3 larger than last year and about 5 per cent larger than the last record in 1996. This year's ozone hole was unusually deep. Near the centre, virtually all the ozone is gone, destroyed by CFCs.

I have been told that, even with the full implementation of the Montreal Protocol, the total emissions over the next decade will be about 1.5 million tonnes. This takes into account the consumption by developing countries and of HCFCs and methyl bromide by all the countries. The CFCs banked in the refrigeration and foam sector, the halons banked in firefighting appliances and the essential uses will also add to the emissions of the ozone depleting chemicals.

Clearly, for the next decade, we must ensure that the implementation of the Montreal Protocol by all countries stays on course and we do to overload the stratosphere with ozone depleting substances.

Allow me to highlight the critical role played by your Assessment Panels in the success of the Protocol. Over the last ten years they have provided us with sound advice on the options available to us. They have been perceptive and objective and commanded universal respect through their independent reports.

The industrialized countries have greatly assisted the process of assessment by supporting their experts in these Panels. The budget of the Secretariat supports participation only from developing countries. I urge the industrialized countries to continue this support. While the Protocol has been a success so far, much more needs to be done, particularly in developing countries to assure the protection of the ozone layer. The support of Assessment Panels will be crucial during the next decade.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The remaining tasks are many. Firstly, the Governments have to prevent the spread of use of methyl bromide to more countries and to more uses and to gradually phase out its existing use in soil fumigation.

Developing countries will have to start implementing their control measures for methyl bromide in another three-and-half years. They should make use of the generous provision of the funds by the Executive committee for demonstration projects.

No one today can speak of the success of the Montreal Protocol without speaking about the success of the Multilateral Fund. The Multilateral Fund has been a convincing illustration of "common but differentiated responsibilities". It is the basis of a new form of international cooperation on addressing global environmental issues addressed in the 1992 UNCED conference in Rio.

To meet their responsibilities, the industrialized countries have contributed US$850 million to the Multilateral Fund. Till the end of 1997, 88 percent of the contributions due have been collected, the highest rate of contributions of any United Nations Fund.

I thank the contributors for this success. But there is no room for complacency. I observe that contributions for the current year, 1998, total only some US$64 millions. This is a mere 40 per cent of the dues for the year. These funds are needed to enable the financial mechanism to achieve its objectives. I urge donor countries to pay the balance of their contributions for 1998 and earlier years as soon as possible.

These contributions have enabled the funding of over 2,500 projects and activities in well over 100 countries. And they have enabled the elimination of approximately 20,000 tonnes of ozone depleting substances. This represents over 60 per cent of the total reported consumption of the 115 countries operating under Article 5 of the Montreal Protocol.

Some developing countries with Multilateral Fund projects have committed to complete their phase out in advance of the Montreal Protocol schedule. These countries are to be congratulated for their vision. Leadership is not a prerogative of any one group. It is vital that those who are able to move ahead quickly share their vision and their expertise so that the high hopes we all now hold for the success of the Montreal Protocol can be assured.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are about to reach a critical turning point in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol. In 1999, the grace period allowed for developing countries will come to an end with a freeze on the production and consumption of CFCs. The real countdown towards a global phase-out will start.

This may also prompt some re-evaluation of the objectives and priorities of the Multilateral Fund. The Fund has been a catalyst for action. It was important to build confidence in the new financial mechanism at the same time as achieving early gains in ozone protection.

The global perspective has now changed. The need for encouragement to participate has been replaced by the obligation to comply with a series of demanding international commitments. The task for the Multilateral Fund is to assist countries effectively to meet these commitments. There must be a new focus on this essential task. There are some clear areas for action.

First and foremost, the groundbreaking work to deal with the closure of production facilities for CFCs, needs to be brought to fruition. Many forward looking countries which do not produce CFCs are looking to progress rapidly towards phase-out. It is difficult for them to make the progress they seek, when they are beset by a surplus of CFCs at some of the lowest prices ever recorded. This situation must be remedied as soon as possible and the Multilateral Fund will play a pivotal role.

The needs of countries which consume only small quantities of ozone-depleting substances, and the needs of small enterprises in larger consuming countries have also come into focus. Both these issues will require innovative thinking on the part of the entire community charged with implementing the financial mechanism.

The time frame is short. Decisions made now will determine the shape of projects implemented in the next two to three years. These projects will themselves provide the impetus to enable countries to meet future commitments, especially the fifty per cent reduction in CFCs required by the end of 2005.

The implementing agencies of the Multilateral Fund, the UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO and the World Bank have recorded steady improvement in the implementation of the projects. I thank them for their services.

From now, the implementation of the Protocol will go hand in hand with the implementation of the projects. I trust the agencies to further improve the speed of completion of projects. I appeal to the developing countries to help by simplifying their procedures further to speed up preparation, approval and completion of the phase-out projects.

I would like to compliment the Implementation Committee for their diligent work this year. The Committee analysed the data for 1996 and has pointed out non-compliance by 8 countries of the former USSR. There have been reasons to sympathize with the inability of these countries to comply in the past. But the time has come when these countries should fulfil their obligations.

GEF is assisting them generously with nearly US$120 million so far. Our thanks are due to the Global Environment Facility for this assistance. You are also aware of the recent success of the special initiative of the World Bank to close down the production facilities of the Russian Federation. Ten donors, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, UK and USA have agreed to give a special contribution of $19 million to the Russian Federation for the closure. I thank the donors for their contributions. As you are aware, the production capacity of the Russian Federation accounts for nearly half of the CFC capacity in the world. This closure will also benefit many other countries to implement the provisions of the Montreal Protocol.

It is not enough to implement projects to phase out these substances in the selected industries. These are many policy measures, that enabled the industrialized countries to phase out quickly. And these can be successfully practiced by all.

There are many market based measures which helped the industrialized countries and also some developing countries like Malaysia and Singapore to reduce their consumption of CFCs. These measures will enable painless transition from CFCs. Voluntary agreements with industries, appropriate taxes on CFCs and subsidies to CFC-free technologies are some of the other measures which the developing countries can take for a faster phase out.

Another important issue which is before you is the possible marketing of new ozone depleting substances. At the moment, the Montreal Protocol does not cover such substances. It is disturbing that in a few years, when we will be congratulating ourselves on our success in protecting the ozone layer, new ozone depleting substances could appear in different parts of the world. I am happy that you are requesting your panels and the legal drafting group to suggest solutions.

Another important issue before you is the concern of many countries regarding dumping of used CFC products. If such products are transferred to developing countries, it will create demand for CFCs in those countries and also burden them with the cost of their disposal. In order to ensure the implementation of the Montreal Protocol in these countries, we need to take steps to prevent this.

I would like to invite your attention to the initiative taken by UNEP to obtain pledges from companies not to manufacture or sell any new CFC using equipment or technology in developing countries or countries with economies in transition. 23 companies have signed this pledge including many multinationals. Perhaps you should encourage all the companies in your countries to take this pledge and also to extend this pledge for used products.

Excellencies,

We have to think of the many interlinkages between the global environmental issues and ensure that all our actions will serve the environment as a whole. The issue of HFCs as substitutes for CFCs is one example. It has been recognized that ozone protection is a priority and HFCs have been very useful to replace CFCs in a number of applications. The future of HFCs has to be decided taking into account the environment as a whole.

I am happy that you are considering a decision to respond to the decision of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention on this issue urging your Assessment Panels and IPCC to cooperate with each other to provide right advice. We in UNEP are prepared to help you in any manner you choose.

I would also urge you to consider the synergies between the various Conventions. Developing countries are now taking many actions for capacity development in their countries through the creation of awareness, education and training with the assistance from international financial mechanisms of each of these Conventions. I believe that there is much scope for harmonizing these activities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is very important that the NGOs continue their awareness activities until the protection of the ozone layer is ensured. New generations of officials have taken charge in many countries in various sectors. We cannot presume that they know the gravity of ozone issues and the actions needed to protect the ozone layer. Particularly, in developing countries, the citizens need to be convinced on what they can do to protect the ozone layer. We must inform and educate them on the need to recycle refrigerants, prefer ozone safe products and boycott products with CFCs. Similarly, the servicing industry needs to be educated on protecting the ozone layer.

I am pleased that UNEP and the Government of Egypt have taken up many activities to create awareness in this area. The children's painting competition is a particularly important awareness generating example. I congratulate all the winners and the participants in this competition.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

The Working Group of the Parties has considered all the issues thoroughly and made sound recommendations for your consideration. I am sure you will decide, as always, in the interests of the protection of the ozone layer.

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Monday 07 Dec 1998
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