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Vienna Convention COP 5 and Montreal Protocol MOP 11

The Eleventh Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (MOP-11/COP-5) begin today and will continue until 3 December in Beijing. At least 600 participants are expected to attend. A high-level segment for ministers and heads of delegations will take place from 2 3 December. Delegates to MOP-11/COP-5 will decide on the level of funding available during 2000 2002 for the Multilateral Fund that assists developing countries in meeting their treaty commitments. They will also consider proposals to list new ozone-depleting substances, as well as to tighten existing phase-out schedules and add new controls under the Protocol, including those relating to hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and methyl bromide.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PROCESS

Concerns that the Earth's stratospheric ozone layer could be at risk from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other anthropogenic substances were first raised during the early- to mid-1970s. At that time, scientists warned that the release of CFCs and other substances into the atmosphere could deplete the ozone layer, thus hindering its ability to prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching the Earth. This would adversely affect ocean ecosystems, agricultural productivity, and animal populations, as well as harm humans by causing higher rates of skin cancer and weakened immune systems.

In response to this growing concern, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened a conference of experts from 32 countries in March 1977. This conference adopted a World Plan of Action on the Ozone Layer and established a Coordinating Committee to determine the extent of the problem as a guide for future international action. In May 1981, the UNEP Governing Council decided to authorize negotiations toward achieving an international agreement on protecting the ozone layer. The Ad Hoc Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts for the Elaboration of a Global Framework Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which included representatives from 24 nations, began meeting in 1982.

VIENNA CONVENTION: The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, adopted in March 1985, was the result of these negotiations. The Convention established the need to cooperate on relevant monitoring, research and data exchanges. However, it did not impose specific obligations on the signatories to reduce production or consumption of ozone-depleting substances or specify what substances caused ozone depletion. To date, the Convention has 173 Parties.

MONTREAL PROTOCOL: Efforts to negotiate binding country obligations and achieve agreement on identifying ozone-depleting substances resumed in 1986, leading to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer on 16 September 1987. Under the Protocol, governments recognized the need to reduce CFC production and consumption. Developed countries pledged to reduce CFC production and consumption by 50 percent of 1986 levels by 1999, while developing countries were granted a grace period allowing them to increase CFC use before taking on commitments. However, while the Protocol was seen as an important step forward, it did not provide a comprehensive set of obligations covering all ozone-depleting substances, or set in place targets that would stabilize the level of ozone depletion. In addition, it did not include a regime for international monitoring of production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances. Provisions for a fund to defray the costs of substitutes for CFCs in the developing countries were also lacking. To date, the Protocol has 172 Parties.

MEETINGS OF THE PARTIES: Following agreement on the Protocol in 1987, further scientific evidence including increasing information about the ozone hole over Antarctica and evidence of reductions in the ozone layer over the Northern Hemisphere - gave fresh impetus to negotiations and the regime-building process. At the First Meeting of the Parties (MOP-1), convened in Helsinki, Finland, in May 1989, delegates agreed to the Helsinki Declaration, which called on Parties to: phase out the production and consumption of CFCs controlled by the Protocol as soon as possible, but not later than the year 2000; tighten the timetable agreed on in the Protocol; phase out halons and control and reduce other ozone-depleting substances as soon as possible; accelerate the development of environmentally-acceptable alternatives to ozone-depleting substances; and develop an appropriate funding mechanism to facilitate the transfer of technology and replacement of equipment at minimum cost to developing countries. MOP-1 also took a number of other decisions aimed at regime building in order to ensure that agreements were effectively implemented and monitored by the international community.

London Amendment: The Second Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP-2) took place in London in June 1990. Delegates to MOP-2 agreed to amend the Protocol to: accelerate the original timetables for phasing out ozone-depleting substances, including phasing out CFCs by 2000, and introduce new control measures. The London Amendment to the Protocol added 10 more CFCs to the list of ozone-depleting substances, as well as carbon tetrachloride, which must be phased out by 2000, and methyl chloroform, which is to be eliminated by 2005.

MOP-2 also established the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, the first of its kind to be established under an environmental agreement. The Fund meets the incremental costs of developing countries to implement the control measures of the Protocol and finances all clearing house functions, including technical assistance, information, training and costs of the Fund Secretariat. The Fund is administered by an Executive Committee made up of seven donor and seven recipient countries. Its finances are replenished every three years. The budget for 1997 99 was US$466 million. To date, 136 Parties have ratified the London Amendment.

Copenhagen Amendment: As further scientific evidence on ozone-layer depletion became available during 1991 92, delegates to the Fourth Meeting of the Parties (MOP-4) in Copenhagen in 1992 agreed to accelerate the ban on all CFCs by four years and to shorten timetables on other ozone-depleting substances. They also added methyl bromide, hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs) and HCFCs to the chemicals to be phased out. The Copenhagen Amendment also agreed on stronger import and export controls and on non-compliance procedures. To date, 101 Parties have ratified the Copenhagen Amendment.

Governance: Subsequent Meetings of the Parties have focused primarily on: governance-related issues aimed at improving implementation of the Protocol and its amendments; and the introduction of additional adjustments to the Protocol to take account of the latest scientific knowledge and technical advances. Further accelerations of phase-out schedules have been agreed, including those for methyl bromide and HCFCs. Other steps taken since MOP-4 have included: encouraging further ratification of the Protocol and subsequent amendments; addressing Parties concerns relating to the accuracy of data reporting; responding to the illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances; and ensuring that developing countries are in a position to meet their treaty obligations.

Montreal Amendment: The Ninth Meeting of the Parties (MOP-9), held in Montreal in September 1997, continued the process of adjusting the Protocol and amending it, this time through the Montreal Amendment. Developed countries agreed to move forward the phase out of methyl bromide to 2005 from 2010, while developing countries agreed to a 20 percent reduction by 2005 and a phase out by 2015. Delegates also agreed to a new licensing system for controlling trade based on licenses issued by Parties for each import and export, and on regular information exchanges between Parties. The aim of this licensing system was to enable customs officials and police to track trade in CFCs and detect illegal trade. The new system will begin operating in 2000. However, proposals to further accelerate the phase out of HCFC consumption and to introduce production controls were not accepted. To date, 29 Parties have ratified the Montreal Amendment.

Tenth MOP: The Tenth Meeting of the Parties (MOP-10) was held during November 1998 in Cairo. Parties considered the challenge of how to develop policies to protect the ozone layer consistent with ongoing efforts to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Several gases that are used as relatively ozone-safe replacements for CFCs notably hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) contribute to global warming. MOP-10 agreed on a process for coordinating the work of the Scientific Panel and the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) on ozone with similar bodies linked to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. MOP-10 also recommended that: measures to close CFC production facilities be strengthened; the Global Environment Facility continue to assist countries with economies in transition to adhere to their phase-out benchmarks; national management strategies for reducing halon emissions be adopted; and new measures be taken to limit the export of new and used products and equipment that require CFCs or other controlled substances.

INTERSESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

19TH OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP OF THE PARTIES TO THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL: The 19th Open-ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol met from 15 - 18 June 1999 in Geneva. Parties worked on finalizing a series of recommendations to MOP-11. Representatives from 110 governments and 35 NGOs attended. A key item on the agenda was the fourth replenishment of the Multilateral Fund. The Fund helps developing countries meet their commitments regarding the phase out of CFCs and halons. The Working Group reviewed an analysis conducted by a special Task Force set up earlier under the auspices of the TEAP. The Task Force report found that growth rates of CFCs in developing countries in the baseline period of 1995 - 1997 were significantly lower than expected, implying that, in order to comply with the minimal requirements of the Protocol for a freeze on CFC and halon production and consumption, replenishment of the Fund could be set at US$306 million, significantly less than the US$465 million required for 1997 - 1999. However, the Task Force suggested that a replenishment level of US$500 million would be more appropriate if governments want to accelerate the phase-out momentum for the period 2003 - 2005. The Working Group continued its consideration of the matter at a meeting held in Washington DC from 30 September to 1 October, and a final decision on replenishment will be taken at MOP-11.

The Working Group also discussed proposals by the European Community to advance the phase-out schedule for HCFCs (a leading replacement for CFCs), to introduce trade controls on methyl bromide, and to control new ozone-depleting substances emerging from research laboratories. In addition, the Working Group considered the 1998 assessment of the ozone layer as well as the environmental impacts and technological and economic aspects presented by the assessment panels. The report of the 19th Open-ended Working Group can be found at: http://www.unep.org/ozone/19oewg.htm.

29TH MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE MULTILATERAL FUND: The 29th Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol met from 24 - 26 November. The meeting, chaired by P. Horwitz (US), discussed issues associated with the Multilateral Fund contributions and disbursements. The Executive Committee took procedural decisions on, inter alia: monitoring and evaluation of the 1999 work programme; status of the phase out of ozone-depleting substances in Article 5 countries; project implementation delays; the Indian production sector agreement; the China Solvent Sector Plan; and guidelines for the methyl bromide sector.

OTHER MEETINGS: The Implementation Committee met in closed session on 27 November. A closed Joint Meeting of the Bureaux of the Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol was also held on 27 November. Reports on these meetings will be presented during MOP-11.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

OPENING PLENARY: The technical segment of the meeting begins with the opening Plenary in Conference Hall 1 at 10:00 am. Delegates will hear statements from Xie Zhenhua, Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration of China, and Shafqat Kakakhel, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP. Delegates will then adopt the agenda and hear presentations on: the supplementary report on replenishment; the report on a fixed exchange rate system for the Fund; and the TEAP Report on HFCs/PFCs.

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