For this Caribbean island, Ozone Protection is a Year-round Mission – Global Issues

Discarded refrigerators. Scientists continue to stress the importance of properly disposing of old refrigerators, as some emit ozone-depleting chemicals. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS
  • by Alison Kentish (Dominica)
  • Inter Press Service

One day is not enough to highlight the achievements made for the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia or to celebrate the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987.

Ozone “day” for this country includes a month-long observation, and ozone protection is a year-round effort.

“The National Ozone Unit was established in 1997 and is responsible for coordinating our activities and programs to ensure we meet our targets under the Montreal Protocol,” Kasha Jn Baptiste, Sustainable Development and Environment Officer at the St Lucia Department of Sustainable Development, told IPS.

“Our primary responsibility is to report on our progress in eliminating ozone-depleting substances and to coordinate related projects. Other tasks include education and awareness raising, technical training, implementation and enforcement of legislation and coordinating partners to ensure we meet our obligations under the convention. It’s a year-round job.”

After a summer of activities with 15-18-year-olds, the Department of Sustainable Development held a month-long event in September. Events included media appearances and updates on Saint Lucia’s progress towards achieving the model protocol. The department has conducted awareness-raising activities at all school levels, with more activities planned for October.

It’s part of a year-round effort to educate the public and put young people at the center of ozone protection.

“One of the most important ways to continue to highlight the ozone layer is to raise awareness. We started with ozone day and usually focused on educational activities around that day, but we realized that we should have activities throughout the year. We also encourage the teaching of ozone issues as part of our science curriculum,” said Jn Baptiste, Coordinator of the Montreal Protocol in St. Lucia.

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Sector

A key component of compliance with the Montreal Protocol involves rigorous monitoring of the refrigeration and air conditioning sector. This includes refrigerants such as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, a group of ozone-depleting chemicals that have been banned but remain in older refrigerator and air-conditioning models.

In Saint Lucia, the Department of Sustainable Development conducts year-round training for technicians.

“The refrigeration and air conditioning sector is where we use the bulk of these products and technicians service these items. We want them to know what is happening, how the sector is going and what new alternatives are available,” Jn Baptiste told IPS.

In a 2016 amendment to the Montreal Protocol, countries agreed to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used as substitutes for CFCs. Known as the Kigali Amendment, its signatories agreed that these HFCs represent potent greenhouse gases (hydrogen, fluorine and carbon) and contribute to climate change.

“What’s really important now is that countries like Saint Lucia have targets in the Montreal Protocol. We’ve been saying “HFC-free by 2030″, so in October Saint Lucia will launch the second phase of the HPMP, the HFC Phase Management Plan. This will include the actions needed to help us reach the 2030 target. We will expand the work done in the past and include activities on the training of technical personnel.”

Legislative changes

Officials are currently reviewing the country’s legislation to ensure compliance with the goals of the Kigali Amendment.

“Our legislation must be updated to extend our licensing and quota system to include HFCs so that we can target and control these gases under the Montreal Protocol,” said Jn. Baptiste said.

“What’s interesting is that phasing out HFCs could help prevent 0.4 degrees of warming by the end of the century. This is important. 0.4 degrees is small, but we know that the Paris agreement aims for 1.5 degrees. The Kigali Amendment, if countries implement it, will do some of the work of the climate agreement. The Montreal Protocol began with the goal of protecting the ozone layer, but it has evolved to address the challenges of climate change—global warming.

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service