September 16 will be celebrated globally as International Ozone Day. The theme for this year’s celebrations is, “Ozone layer protection: governance and compliance at their best”, and highlights the role of good governance in enabling successful implementation and compliance with the Montreal Protocol.
The National Ozone Unit which co-ordinates all projects and activities geared towards the phase out of ozone depleting substances in Jamaica will observe the day with a public awareness campaign including a weeklong exhibition at the Tom Redcam Library, a publication, and radio commercials.
The Montreal Protocol is an environmentally legally binding agreement to reduce ozone depleting substances (ODS) and protect the ozone layer. It is ratified by over 192 countries, and is recognized around the world as the most effective environmental agreement ever implemented. At the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987 approximately 1.8 million tonnes of controlled ODS were being produced. In the twenty three years since the signing of the Montreal Protocol, production was reduced to about 83,000 tonnes. The ODS have been replaced with substitutes which do not deplete the ozone layer, such as hydro-fluorocarbons and hydrocarbons. Ozone friendly equipment has fewer leaks and is more energy efficient. Since some ODS contribute to global warming and eventually climate change their reduction have benefited the earth’s climate. Recovery of the ozone layer is expected within this century.
Jamaica ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1993, and has also ratified all the amendments. The National Ozone Unit (NOU) which is the housed at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) co-ordinates all projects and activities geared towards the phase out of ODS. Through the work of the NOU, the National Ozone Commission and other key stakeholders Jamaica has achieved all its obligations under the Montreal Protocol to date, including phasing out CFCs as at January 1, 2006, four years ahead of the Montreal Protocol’s 2010 schedule. The next ODS to be phased out is hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), for which the first reduction target has been set for 2013. HCFCs were initially used as an alternative to CFCs due to the unavailability of more suitable alternatives. They can be found in some air-conditioning units, and refrigerators. Jamaica is currently preparing the HCFC phase out management plan which includes the planned activities and their implementation dates.