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Environmental Specialists Discuss O-Zone Depletion
posted (March 2, 2010)

Environmental specialists from 12 Caribbean countries are in Belize this week to talk about the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Don’t know what that is? Well, it’s an international treaty to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production compounds believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. Basically, those are refrigerants – the stuff that makes air conditioners blow cold air. Now, new refrigerants are being designed that don’t damage the O-zone and Jim McFadzean found out how the effort is going in Belize.

Jim McFadzean Reporting,
Much of the talk at today’s meeting focused on the region’s ability to comply with the complete phasing out of HCFCs, a new class of ozone depleting substances, in accordance with the Montreal Protocol. According to Martin Allegria, Belize’s Chief Environmental Officer, Belize has been a party to the Protocol since 1998 and has already met its first obligation of the treaty, that is the total phasing out of CFC’s due by 2010.

Martin Allegria, Chief Environmental Officer
“We amended the environmental legislation to address or to incorporate ozone depleting substances issues whereby we established a licensing system for imports of the targeted ozone depleting substances, mostly the CFCs at that time. We gave a timeframe from 2002 to 2010 which is about 7 to 8 years to phase out in accordance with the Montreal Protocol. Accompanying that was training with key people, training specifically to the refrigeration technicians for them to be aware of what they do affects the ozone layers in terms of the Freon that they use and just vent out at that time. So we sensitized them, we provided them with key basic equipment in order for them to be able to implement the good practices in refrigeration that they had learnt.”

The countries at today’s meeting, mostly tiny and under populated Caribbean countries discussed the important issue in which law enforcement will play a vital role in the ability to implement the obligations of the Protocol.

Martin Allegria,
“The importation of all these substances, these equipment that use ozone depleting substances refridges, freezers, coolers, you name it. Even the industrial size refrigeration equipment, the walk-in closets or freezers, all those we have addressed through sensitization and legislation.”

So how does Belize and the other countries of this region figure in the overall Global picture, as it relates to the use of Ozone depleting substances?

Paul Horwitz, Deputy Exec. Secretary - Ozone Secretariat
“Belize and the region are actually minor contributors to our problem of ozone depletion although they would be disproportionably hit because of the increase UV radiation that would result from ozone depletion. In the early days of the Montreal Protocol there was a choice; should we just focus on the major producers or should we just focus on all parties and the decision was to focus on all parties.”

Jim McFadzean,
How will the average Belizean be affected whilst the government seeks to comply with its obligation to this protocol?”

Martin Allegria,
“In order to make sure that we fulfil the commitments, 2013 to 2015 but without damaging or affecting or impacting negatively the economic development of Belize. Hotel industry for example they use a lot of R22, the design of the plan for the next 20 years to phase out CFCs, we will have take into consideration how we will sensitize the tourism sector for example, the hoteliers and so on, in order for them to import as time goes by equipments that are already using the alternative, the other gases rather than the 22.”

Horwitz says the Montreal Protocol Treaty is extraordinary in its shining example of how both industrialized and underdeveloped nations work effortlessly at, and for the common cause of mankind.

Paul Horwitz,
“The industrialized countries phased out by 1996 almost all of their CFCs and they have done an excellent job in phasing out. But I must say that so has the developing countries if you will. China has done an extraordinary job in phasing out those ozone depleting substances, going much faster than required by the Montreal Protocol as has Belize. So parties have taken this very very seriously and have moved very effectively to address the issue of ozone depletion. But I must also say, because I know this area is very concerned about climate change, that every reduction we made in the use of ozone depleting substances contributed to the efforts to address climate change because ozone depleting substances themselves are global warming gases. So the Montreal Protocol in Belize through its compliance with the protocol, has made substantial assistance to the climate change regime in the face of those substances too.”

Horwitz says that unlike many other treaties such as the KYOTO Climate Warming Treaty, which the United States, one of the biggest contributors to Global Warming, has refrained from signing on to, The Montreal Protocol boasts the signatory of every nation of the World. Reporting for Seven News, I’m Jim McFadzean.

Countries participating in this annual regional meeting include the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago.

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