Arif M. Faisal and Dr. Mohammad Ismail: Ozone gas, naturally present in our atmosphere, spreads from 10 km to 50 km altitude from the earth surface. Ozone protects our planet by absorbing the harmful ultra-violet (UV) radiation emitting from the sun by forming Ozone layer in the stratosphere(also referred to as "good ozone" layer).
The depletion of ozone layer allows UV radiation to enter into the earth’s atmosphere that has profound impacts on human health, marine ecosystem, food chain, global warming and climate change. Ozone layer depletion reduces the amount of ozone in stratosphere but increases that in the troposphere where ozone is considered as a pollutant and a greenhouse gas(GHG).
Ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) e.g., Chhloro-flouro-carbons (CFCs), halons, cause the ozone depletion, are man-made chemicals that wing agents, fire extinguishers and metered dose inhalers. In 1970’s, ozone layer density depletion was suspected by scientists and in 1985, the first ozone hole was reported over the Antarctica. The scientists confirmed that the ozone hole was indeed caused by chlorine and bromine from man-made organo-halogens which are mainly used in RAC, aerosols, etc.
Montreal Protocol (MP), agreed to phase-out the use and production of CFCs, halons etc., especially to eliminate the production and use of CFCs, was adopted in 16th September 1987. Earlier to MP, Vienna convention was hold for the protection of the Ozone layer in 1985and the Vienna treaty was entered into force on 1998. From 1st January 1989, the MP entered into force and in 1990, the MP ratified countries agreed to phase out CFCs and halons entirely (aside from a very small amount marked for "essential" uses like asthma inhalers) from developed countries by 2000 and from less developed signatory countries by 2010. The Multi-lateral Fund (MLF) was established in 1993 to support developing countries in phase-out ofODSs. The MLF supports the less developed countries for implementation of projects via UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO and World Bank.
The developed countries completely phase out the use of halons, CFCs and methyl bromide in 1994, 1996 and 2005, respectively. The less developed countries including Bangladesh(signed the MP on 2ndAugust 1990)completely phased out the CFCs, Halons and Carbon tetra chloride in 2010.The Government of Bangladesh formed ‘National Ozone Unit (NoU)’ in 1995 to execute the various function related to ODSs and MP. In Bangladesh, the average amount of CFCs use was580.40 Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) tons in 1995 -1997.
To phase out the CFCs use, Bangladesh implemented around 18 projects under the financial support of MLF through UNDP and UNEP.
MP is considered one of the most successful international environmental treaties in which all the counties (197) of the world signed. The global use of ODSs has been eliminated over 98 per cent (the other 2% has been controlling for medical purposes) through a shared commitments and cooperation. In 2014, the scientists informed that ozone hole recovered and predicted that the world is on the right track to repairing the ozone layer to pre-1980 levels by the middle of this century. They also estimated that the MP has avoided around 135 Giga-tones of CO2-equivalent globally.
Technologically, HCFCs (Hydro-chloro-fluoro-carbon) and HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbon) were introduced in RAC sector to phase out the CFCs and these were the only few alternatives in the ninety’s period. HCFCs as well as HFCs have less ODP but have very high global warming potential (GWP). For instance, the GWP of HCFC-22 and HFC-134a (both are most commonly used in RAC) are1810 and 1430. The global average temperature is projected to rise by 2°C at the end of this century and it is estimated that gradual phase down of HCFCs and HFCs could avoid up to 0.5°C of global warming. Hence, phase down of HCFCs and HFCs creates the single largest opportunity to reduce the global warming while achieving the target set in Paris Climate Agreement in COP21. A critical milestone on the journey of MP is the Kigali Amendment (on 15 October 2016, all parties of MP reached agreement in Kigali, Rwanda) -- a legally binding climate agreement to phase down the manufacture and use of HFCs by roughly 80-85% till 2045. So far, 32 countries have ratified this agreement while it will enter into force from 1 January 2019.
Is Bangladesh ready to ratify the Kigali Amendment?
Private sectors (mainly RAC) will play significant role for the reduction ofHFCs use in Bangladesh. The demand for air condition and refrigeration is gradually increasing over the country in the recent years. However, Bangladesh must reduce the HCFCs and HFCs consumption in a step-wise fashion. Bangladesh should recognize the HFCs phase down as an opportunity to re-design RAC sector to be more environment friendly and energy efficient. Hydrocarbon (HC) based alternative refrigerants with least global warming potential e.g., HC-600a (GWP: 3), HC-290 (GWP: 3.3) and eco-friendlier, climate neutral and energy efficient technology are now available in the global market for transformation of RAC sector. A recent report showed that with the application of HC-based technology, air conditioner efficiency can be improved by 30-40% beyond the currently best available technology.
Many benefits can be achieved by the country through ratifying this global legally binding agreement including 1) technological (introduction of energy efficient & environment friendly hydrocarbon based technology), 2) financial (enhance access to global market, trade and climate fund), 3) economic (private sector growth and green job creation), 4) environmental (25 per cent reduction of GHG emission and 0.5o C temperature reduction goal), 5) political (global partnership), and 5) social benefit (reduce health related disease burden).
However, several implications may need to be taken into consideration to adopt this treaty. These include: 1) more investment for new and alternative technology which may lead to increase production cost of the RAC industry owner, 2) formulation of new policy, amendment of existing one, 3) improvement of capacity of production process, and 4) ensure the occupational health and safety of workers.
The ratification will create opportunity to jump-start the transition to lowest GWP cooling technology, however, incentives, concessional finance, capacity building and support to small and medium RAC enterprise to promote greener growth are essential. Otherwise, SMEs in RAC sector will face a strong imbalanced competition with the multi-national and big companies. The safety of workers and industries need to be addressed as hydrocarbon-based refrigerants are highly flammable.
Adequate training and capacity building must be required to develop skilled manpower for the RAC sector. The UNDPis supporting the Government of Bangladesh and country’s private sectors in adopting environmental friendly technology to achieve climate target set in Paris Agreement.
Montreal Protocol showed a pathway that if the global community can work together for common cause, the success is inevitable. We strongly believe that ratification of Kigali agreement will ensure five successes: significant industrial innovation, increase energy efficiency, climate friendly technology promotion, creation of green jobs and save of our ozone layer. Bangladesh should look forward to ratify the Kigali Amendment under the Montreal Protocol. However, the country needs to emphasis on overcoming the barriers and challenges through proper technical, financial and capacity building supports from international concern authorities to implement the Kigali Amendment.
Arif M. Faisal is Programme Specialist (Environment Sustainability and Energy), UNDP Bangladesh and Dr. Mohammad Ismail, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, University of Dhaka.
risingbd/Dhaka/Sep 24, 2018/Milton Ahmed/Nasim