“Keep Cool and Carry On! The Montreal Protocol.” A Message from the Environment Minister: Trevor A. Prescod, for International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
“Keep Cool and Carry On” is the mantra adopted by the Montreal Protocol, as a message to all its members in commemoration of today, September 16, as International Ozone Day. As the new Minister of Environment and National Beautification, I feel honoured to be able to address you on this day of global and national significance.
As citizens, it would be fair of you to enquire about the relevance of this Day and its message to Barbados. Many of you are aware that as a tropical country, we are predisposed to the damaging effects associated with prolonged and unprotected exposure to strong sunlight, particularly to ultraviolet B(UV-B) radiation. Among others, UV-B is known to cause cataracts, certain types of skin cancers, reduced plant yields, and damage to ocean ecosystems. The ongoing and ever increasing international concern for Global Warming and Climate Change further heighten these risks as well as the urgency with which national actions by all countries are required in support of long-term global solutions and objectives. As a small open and vulnerable economy, these risks are highly untenable, particularly as our human resources represent our most significant asset. Barbados’ actions must be part of the remedy for these global concerns.
It is for these reasons that Barbados became a Party to the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the Montreal Protocol (MP) on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Accordingly, this year’s theme for International Ozone Day represents a reminder for us to maintain our focus on the objectives of these important multilateral instruments and to press on with our efforts and contributions even in the face of the pitfalls that we may encounter along the way.
Since signing the Protocol in 1992, the programme implemented by the National Ozone Unit in the Ministry of Environment has realised the successful consumption phase-out of all ozone depleting substances (ODS) that have been banned from global trade since 2010, as well as established measures to meet current hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) consumption phase-down obligations preparatory to global phase out by 2030 for developed countries and 2040 for developing countries. Like many of the ODS’ that have already been phased-out, HCFC’s are principally used in the Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) sector.
The nexus between protection of the ozone layer, global warming and climate change has become even more stark with the increasing use of Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants as alternatives for HCFC gases.
Even as they are non-ozone depleting, HFC’s are potent greenhouse gases (GHG). This concern has given rise to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to effect a global HFC phase-down and is additionally intended to stimulate a further technological transition in the RAC industry towards alternative refrigerants that meet both the ozone depletion and GHG emissions reduction concerns. Barbados has ratified this amendment and has also communicated our intent to significantly reduce our GHG emissions profile by 2030.
To this end, the Ministry has initiated consultations with the Ozone Secretariat for the development of a national HFC phase-down programme, and has commenced the process for putting in place the regulatory provisions to establish and maintain compliance with the Kigali targets. In consultation with key national agencies and sectors, as well as with the support of our international partners, the Ministry expects to realise the full adoption of those RAC replacement technologies that are suitable for Barbados over the medium term.
The Ozone Day message “Keep cool and carry on” is therefore entirely consistent with our commitment to aiding with the resolution of two of the most significant global environmental challenges, as well as with the vision advocated for Barbados in the manifesto of my Government.
Your involvement in the pursuit of this vision is a necessary requirement for success and will not go unnoticed.