It is indeed a privilege to address you as Minister of Environment and Drainage as we celebrate International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. International Ozone Day commemorates the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer on September 16, 1987 and this year we celebrate under the theme ???A Healthy Atmosphere, the Future We Want???.??
The Ozone Layer protects the earth from harmful Ultra Violet (UV) rays from the sun and without it, the earth would be exposed to seventy (70) times more intense UV radiation than we experience today; thus, placing virtually all life on earth at risk of extinction. Since the hole in the ozone layer was discovered in 1985, countries of the world including Barbados have been working tirelessly to phase out substances that deplete the ozone layer also known as Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS).??
This year???s theme therefore serves an important reminder of what we as a global community are striving toward not only for our own sakes but for the sakes of our children.
January 1, 2013 began a new phase in Barbados??? transition away from ODS towards non ODS, climate friendly, energy efficient alternatives with the establishment of the national baseline for consumption of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). HCFCs are substances which are used primarily in the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (RAC) Sector and are currently included under the restricted import/export list under the Customs (List of Prohibited and Restricted Imports and Exports) Order 2009 and the 2010 Amendment. Further, the HCFC Quota System is in place and is administered in line with the legislation and in keeping with our commitments as a Party to the Montreal Protocol.
The Legislation and the Quota System were instituted to act in concert to effectively monitor and manage trade in ODS. It is anticipated that with the requisite monitoring and enforcement regimes in place; coupled with the sustained support and commitment of the RAC sector; and the vigilance of the consumer that Barbados will effect a transition away from ODS.
The Ministry of Environment and Drainage is poised to commence implementation of its HCFC Phase out Management Plan (HPMP) which is the tool that will be used to describe the programme of national activities to effect HCFC phase out, and the transition toward non ODS alternatives. The HPMP will focus primarily on the key areas of Policy and Legislation, Capacity building and Public Awareness which are considered to be critical to meeting national phase out targets. Through this approach it is anticipated that:
??? There will be the development and enactment of further supporting legislation necessary to continue to effect HCFC phase out
??? There will be a reduction in the consumption of and demand for HCFCs
??? RAC technicians, Enforcement and Licensing Officers and other stakeholders will be adequately equipped to handle the phase out and management of HCFCs and to deal with the influx of the new refrigerant technologies that will replace HCFCs
??? Awareness about the availability and application of alternative refrigerant technologies that will replace HCFC will be increased
Recovery of the ozone layer is occurring slowly because of the length of time it takes for ODS to break down in the stratosphere but science projects that once countries remain on track with their respective phase out efforts, then complete recovery can be expected by 2065.
In our quest to control HCFCs, we are mindful of the current lack of availability of non-ODS, climate friendly and energy efficient alternatives for all applications. As a result, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have emerged and is gaining increasing market share in the RAC sector.
However, these gases though highly effective as refrigerants are powerful greenhouse gases which if released into the atmosphere contribute significantly to climate change. As a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as well as a Low Lying Coastal State climate change is one of our largest concerns as it will negatively impact on our environment, economy and health. Although we are currently technology takers, we must now seek to become more innovative and vigilant in identifying non ODS alternatives with added environmental benefits where possible that can be used within various applications in our country.
Therefore, the call goes out to all stakeholders to continue to take their respective responsibilities seriously as we continue to work with our international partners the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) towards a healthy atmosphere for the future.