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Montreal Protocol Celebrates International Ozone Day, Achieves Universal Ratification and Looks toward Increasing Climate Benefits

© UN16 September 2009: The Montreal Protocol celebrated the UN's International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer on 16 September. To add to the celebrations, Timor-Leste announced its ratification of the Protocol, making the Montreal Protocol the first environmental agreement to achieve universal participation by 196 parties.

The Montreal Protocol, established to phase-out pollutants that damage the planet's protective ozone layer, will in three months' time have completely retired close to 100 chemicals linked with ozone damage. Marco González, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat, said the focus is now switching from the original gases, such as chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), to their replacement gases known as hydrochloflurocarbons (HCFCs) and hydroflurocarbons (HFCs). In 2007, governments agreed to accelerate the freeze and phase-out HCFCs, explicitly for their climate change impacts. The focus is now shifting to HFCs. Rapid action to freeze and to cut emissions annually, alongside fostering readily available alternatives, could see HFC emissions fall to under one Gigatonne by 2050.

Parties to the Protocol will consider a proposal to address HFCs at the 21st Meeting of the Parties (MOP-21) scheduled to convene in Port Ghalib, Egypt, in November. González emphasized that MOP-21 will bring together “the highest number ever of participating States for decision-making under an international treaty,” and governments are expected to chart future directions for the treaty including its role in combating climate change.

In his statement to make the International Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that collaboration between the ozone and climate regimes could result in benefits including “improved energy efficiency in industrial and household processes and appliances, and spin-offs for the wider chemicals agenda, including in the areas of waste management and human health.” [Ozone Secretariat's Ozone Day webpage][UNEP Press release][Secretary-General's message]