Protecting the Ozone Layer and Safeguarding the Global Climate
Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) are a group of man-made chemicals that, when released into the atmosphere, can cause the depletion of the Ozone Layer. This depletion allows increased levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation to reach the earth’s surface. In turn, increased UV radiation poses significant threats to human health by compromising immune systems and causing higher levels of skin cancer and eye cataracts. It also disturbs the ecological balance of watersheds, agricultural lands and forests.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international environmental agreement that aims to protect the earth’s ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODS). The Montreal Protocol, founded on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, is the only multilateral environmental agreement with universal ratification. Since its signature in 1987, the Montreal Protocol has been very successful in eliminating the majority of its controlled substances by 1 January 2010 and contributed to reversing the damage done to the ozone layer.
Since most ODS are also powerful greenhouse gases (GHG), activities under the Montreal Protocol have in addition resulted in greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to 25 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent (UN MDG Report, 2011). As such, the Montreal Protocol has been recognized as a global success, for its contributions to safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate.
However, important challenges remain. During the last 20 years, industry went through a transition from CFCs (with a high Ozone Depleting Potential – ODP) to HCFCs (low ODP), and is now starting to transition from HCFCs to alternatives that do not deplete the ozone layer at all. Worldwide, HCFCs are currently used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and foam products and represent the largest portion of remaining ODS consumed. Unfortunately, not all alternatives to HCFCs are climate-friendly. Depending on the alternatives selected, the phase-out of HCFCs can either significantly contribute to climate change mitigation or entirely nullify a country’s efforts to reduce its climate impact.
An additional challenge is posed by ODS that are contained in obsolete equipment (e.g. refrigerators replaced as part of energy efficiency programmes) or present in obsolete chemical stockpiles. These ODS threaten to leak into the atmosphere if they are not properly managed and disposed of, posing significant threats to both the ozone layer and the global climate.
To tackle such challenges, UNDP assists developing countries and countries with economies in transition to comply with Montreal Protocol targets, such as the Phase-out of HCFCs while fostering the introduction of ozone and climate friendly alternatives and proper disposal of ODS Banks, through:
- Institutional capacity development.
- Policy and regulatory interventions.
- Technology needs assessment.
- HCFC Phase-out Management Plans / low-carbon sector strategies.
- Assessment and demonstration of low-carbon alternative technologies.
- Assistance to the developing countries to access, combine and sequence different sources of environmental financing to meet Montreal Protocol compliance targets and bring climate co-benefits.
UNDP helps governments and businesses to compete in a growing green economy and avoid job losses by removing barriers to employing ozone-friendly, energy-efficient, low carbon production processes that are good for the economy and the global environment.
Since 1991, with cumulative funding from the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (MLF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and bi-lateral donors, UNDP has implemented 2,225 projects in 118 countries. UNDP’s portfolio of ozone-related projects has a cumulative total value exceeding US$ 660 million (US$ 630 million from MLF and US$ 33.5 million from GEF) and to date has prevented the release of over 68,000 tonnes of ODS into the atmosphere.
Our Projects in the News
Cuban Plant to Destroy Substances Depleting the Ozone Layer
The first plant in Latin America with the purpose of destroying substances harmful to the ozone layer will be operational soon in Cuba announced Salvador Damas, deputy technical director of the factory. The project will be carried out at the Siguaney cement factory in the country’s central province of Sancti Spiritus and is part of a strategy developed by Cuba and the Multilateral Fund of the Protocol of Montreal through the UN Development Program (UNDP).
The government of Nigeria, through the assistance of Multilateral Fund (MLF) and the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) and UNIDO, is implementing a Hydrochlorofluorocarbons phase-out Management Plan(HPMP), which when completed, will result in complete phase-out of 398.5 ODP tonnes of HCFC’s by January 2030.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a report showcasing how 120 countries eliminated more than 67,000 tonnes of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and over 5 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions, helping to improve air quality and technological practices in such sectors as refrigeration and air conditioning, solvents, and foams.
"...the Montreal protocol has reduced them [CFCs] by the equivalent of 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (compared with doing nothing), making it by far the world’s most effective action to tackle climate change"
UNDP ozone work in Tajikistan (in Russian)
This video describes the challenge of protecting the ozone layer and the work UNDP is supporting in Tajikistan with co-funding from the Global Environment Facility.
- 11 Jun 2013:UNDP welcomes China-US agreement to combat climate change
- 12 Apr 2013:UNDP and the United Arab Emirates to reduce Dubai's carbon footprint
- 02 Apr 2013:Colombia’s refrigeration industry promoting green economy
- 10 Dec 2012:UNDP receives award for exceptional contribution to protecting Earth’s ozone layer
- 26 Mar 2012:Indonesia: Partnership helps preserve climate and build green economy
Topics in Protecting the Ozone Layer and Safeguarding the Global Climate
- HCFC Phase out Management Plans
- ODS Banks Destruction
- Climate Change Mitigation and ODS Phase-out
- Environmental Financing for ODS Life-cycle Management
- Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol
- Global Environment Facility
- Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management
- Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme
- US Environmental Protection Agency
- The Ozone Secretariat
- Montreal Protocol publications in Portuguese