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45th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol

2–7 July 2023 | Bangkok, Thailand

Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

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Science has been the cornerstone of the Montreal Protocol’s success since its inception and non-negotiated scientific assessments have informed decision-making that has helped to heal the Earth’s ozone layer. But there are a number of new challenges to the Protocol’s effective implementation, which were the focus of the week’s meeting.

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Heralded as the most successful multilateral environmental agreement, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was adopted to protect the Earth’s ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of substances that deplete it, such as those contained in aerosol sprays, coolants, asthma inhalers, food production, and building materials, to name a few.

Ozone layer depletion causes increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels at the Earth's surface, which is damaging to human health. Negative effects include increases in certain types of skin cancers, eye cataracts and immune deficiency disorders. UV radiation also affects terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, altering growth, food chains and biochemical cycles. Aquatic life just below the water’s surface, the basis of the food chain, is particularly adversely affected by high UV levels. UV rays also affect plant growth, reducing agricultural productivity.

In recent years, the Montreal Protocol has been amended to take on additional challenges related to the production and consumption of climate-altering hydrofluorocarbons. But even successful agreements are not immune to challenges, including funding the treaty’s implementation and strengthening its effectiveness, while taking into account new global circumstances.

The 45th meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG 45) of the parties to the Montreal Protocol is meeting to address a number of these challenges, such as those related to the 2022 quadrennial assessment of the Montreal Protocol, including:

  • issues arising from the 2022 quadrennial assessment and synthesis report of the Scientific Assessment Panel (SAP), the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (EEAP) and the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP);
  • the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) not listed in Annex F;
  • availability of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs);
  • the update to the TEAP report on information on alternatives to HFCs;
  • potential areas of focus for the 2026 quadrennial assessment; and
  • the future availability of halons and their alternatives.

Delegates are also set to address the TEAP report for the 2024-2026 replenishment of the Multilateral Fund (MLF) for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol. They will also consider how to strengthen the Protocol’s institutions, including for combating illegal trade in ozone-depleting and other substances. This issue will also be the subject of a one-day workshop to be convened prior to OEWG 45, where participants are scheduled to consider how to further strengthen effective implementation and enforcement of the Montreal Protocol.

Discussions are also expected to touch on a TEAP report on energy-efficient and low- or zero-global-warming-potential technologies. Under this discussion, delegates will consider how to address the growing problem of dumping of obsolete technologies in developing countries. Delegates will further discuss how to identify gaps in the global coverage of atmospheric monitoring of controlled substances and options for enhancing such monitoring.

Delegates will also consider a 2023 TEAP progress report on issues relating to, among others:

  • nomination for critical-use exemption for methyl bromide for 2024;
  • ongoing emissions of carbon tetrachloride;
  • quarantine and pre-shipment uses of methyl bromide for which alternatives are available; and
  • existing challenges and potential options for the future configuration and function of Panel technical options committees.

The meeting is set to discuss parties’ stocks of methyl bromide, although only one party has made available accessible data on the subject to date. It will also consider the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on HFC consumption in developing countries.

OEWG 45 will be held at the UN Conference Center in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3-7 July 2023, preceded by a workshop on strengthening effective implementation and enforcement of the Montreal Protocol on 2 July 2023.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) writers for this meeting are Tallash Kantai, Jose F. Pinto-Bazurco, Ph.D.; and Kaspar Sollberger, Ph.D. The Digital Editor is Anastasia Rodopoulou. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D.

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