By Maryam Qarehgozlou

Iran marks Intl. Day for the Preservation of Ozone Layer

September 17, 2017

TEHRAN — Iran marked on Sunday the United Nations’ International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer commemorating the date of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987.

Back in the 1920’s, coolants and fridges were discovered to be very toxic, causing severe health complications to humans. CFCs were the solution to address this, but decades later, CFCs were also found to be the root cause of a hole in the stratosphere- commonly referred to as the ozone hole. 

The ozone layer is the natural shield against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, which can cause severe health risks such as skins cancers. This damage to the ozone layer prompted governments to moot an environmental agreement to govern the production and use of harmful substances that damage the ozone.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was designed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere, and thereby protect the earth’s fragile ozone Layer. The protocol was agreed on September 16th in 1987 and entered into force on January 1st in 1989.

“I call on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take the important step to discuss and approve the Kigali amendment,” Lewis noted. 

As of 1990 Iran has archived its phase-out targets for a number of ozone depleting substances, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Gary Lewis said, adding, “Since 2012 the UN has partnered with the Islamic Republic of Iran on the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan or what we call as HPMP.”

The project’s main target is to phase-down and ultimately phase-out the use of HCFCs in Iran to comply with the Montreal Protocol’s controlling targets through a harmonized national strategy. Iran does not produce any HCFCs. However, Iran does import HCFCs for various industrial uses and as a Party to the Montreal Protocol, Iran must incrementally decrease HCFC consumption culminating in a complete HCFC phase-out in 2030.

Lewis went on to say that under HCFC Phase-out Management Plan Iran has succeeded in achieving two targets of freezing at baseline consumption level (380.5 tons of ozone depleting potentials) by 2013 and 10% reduction of the baseline (342.5 tons of ozone depleting potentials) by 2015.

“This success have been the result of collaboration of Iran’s national ozone units and the work of UN agencies such as UNDP, UN environment, and UNIDO and the support of German government,” he added. “And this is why I say Iran is the regional and global best practice and can serve as a hub to support similar efforts in the region.”

“We need to build on the success of the first projects and continue it into the future; more works is required at the international level to which Iran should contribute,” he highlighted. 

Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful multilateral environmental agreement that fulfilled its purpose, the UN official to Iran said, stating, “The protocol has been responsible for phasing out nearly one hundred percent of ozone depleting substances and as a result the ozone is starting to thicken again and be able to protect us more from debilitating rays.”

“And our new focus need to be on what we call hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) and in this respect the parties to the Montreal protocol reached an agreement in October of last year in Kigali, Rwanda, to phase out these hydroflourocarbons,” he said.

In Kigali, delegates worked to negotiate and reach a deal on a timetable that would mandate countries to phase down the production and usage of hydroflourocarbons (HFCs). 

Following seven years of continuous consultations, Parties to the Montreal Protocol struck a landmark legally binding deal to reduce the emissions of powerful greenhouse gases in a move that could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer. 

“This success have been the result of collaboration of Iran’s national ozone units and the work of UN agencies such as UNDP, UN environment, and UNIDO and the support of German government,” he added. “And this is why I say Iran is the regional and global best practice and can serve as a hub to support similar efforts in the region.”

HFCs are man-made chemicals that are primarily used in air conditioning, refrigeration and foam insulation, and are powerful greenhouse gases that can be thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change.

“I call on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take the important step to discuss and approve the Kigali amendment,” Lewis noted.  

He further said that “It is our hope that we can continue to contribute to Iran’s effort to achieve its sustainable development goals especially on energy efficiency and climate change; Iran has joined other nations in the world who are focused on finding solutions to environmental challenges and move toward a brighter sunlit future.”

Iran’s environment chief Issa Kalantari, for his part, noted that Iran has always been committed to international treaties and agreements. 

“I hope that one day we all be committed to a national agreement to resolve environmental issues such as water shortage, soil pollution, waste management and wildlife conservation,” Kalantari said. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message 

The thirtieth anniversary of the Montreal Protocol is a milestone for all people and our planet.  When scientists found that everyday products were destroying the fragile ozone layer, the world responded with the Montreal Protocol. It rallies Governments, companies, doctors, scientists and citizens to reverse the damage.

That saves millions of people from skin cancer and cataracts each year, and the Protocol helps combat poverty, address climate change and protect the food chain.  The treaty also creates new business opportunities — and it will save the global economy over $2 trillion by 2050.

Today we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Montreal Protocol.  And we congratulate ozone heroes around the world.

MQ/MG

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