SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
News: Study Pinpoints Source of Banned Gas That Saps Ozone Layer: Eastern China.
Source: The Hindu
CFC-11 is one of a class of compounds called chlorofluorocarbons that destroy atmospheric ozone. They are also potent greenhouse gases that contribute to atmospheric warming.
Chlorofluorocarbons were outlawed for almost all uses by the Montreal Protocol, an international pact negotiated decades ago to preserve the layer of ozone that blocks ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Excessive amounts of some types of UV radiation can cause skin cancer and eye damage in people and are harmful to crops and other vegetation.
Although the Montreal Protocol called for phasing out CFC-11 production and use by 2010, some emissions continued as products that use it were destroyed and the chemical was released.
CFC-11 has a lifetime of about half a century, so the emissions, combined with breakdown of the chemical, should have caused its concentration in the atmosphere to decline more rapidly every year.
The Montreal Protocol is an international environmental agreement with universal ratification to protect the earth’s ozone layer by eliminating use of ozone depleting substances (ODS), which would otherwise allow increased UV radiation to reach the earth, resulting in higher incidence of skin cancers and eye cataracts, more-compromised immune systems, and negative effects on watersheds, agricultural lands and forests. Since its adoption in 1987 and as of end-2014, it has successfully eliminated over 98 percent of controlled ODS, helping reverse the damage to the ozone layer.
A very significant co-benefit is that it has - during period 1989-2013 - reduced cumulative CO2-eq. emissions by 135 billion tonnes. Important challenges remain. The transition from CFCs (high ozone depleting potential or ODP) to intermediate HCFCs (with lower ODP) has been completed, and the final transition is to alternatives that have zero ODP.
The challenge is to develop/select alternatives (mainly in refrigeration, air-conditioning, and foam products) that are also climate-friendly.
As an implementing agency of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (MLF), UNDP supports developing countries eliminate ODS. UNDP is also an Implementing Agency for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which funds similar programmes in countries with economies in transition.
UNDP services include technology transfer and technical assistance, formulation and implementation of country and sector strategies, capacity building, accessing funding from different sources, and facilitating public/private partnerships. UNDP has assisted 120 partner countries to access $733.5 million in funding, helping to eliminate 67,870 tonnes of ODS while also reducing 5.08 billion tonnes of CO2-eq greenhouse gas emissions.
Currently, UNDP is assisting these countries comply with the HCFC consumption freeze and the 10% reduction targets. As lead agency in 29 countries and cooperating agency in 18 others, UNDP supports implementation of national HCFC Phase-Out Management Plans (HPMPs). Combined, these countries represent 77% of the global consumption of HCFCs. UNDP also supports countries convert manufacturing processes to non-HCFC climate-friendly alternatives in the foam, refrigeration, air-conditioning, solvents and other sectors.
The Nov. 2014 report “Protecting the Ozone Layer and Reducing Global Warming” features UNDP case studies including technology transfer across different regions, and summarizes the results and lessons learned during 1991-2014.
UNDP activities are carried out in cooperation with the MLF, GEF, Ozone Secretariat, UNEP, UNIDO, World Bank, and a broad range of bilateral, private sector and NGO partners.