Albion Monitor /News

Ozone Cleanup Fund Owed Millions

by Maricel Sequiera

More than $5 million overdue

(IPS) -- Unless the world's governments meet their financial obligations to treaties designed to protect the ozone layer, real improvement is unlikely, a senior U.N. official said at an international conference last month.

Executive director of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), Elizabeth Dowdeswell said 283,000 dollars were owed in back dues to the Vienna Convention for 1995 and 2.1 million dollars in back payments were owed under the Montreal Protocol.

Total accumulated back dues under the Vienna Convention stood at $536,000 and 4.4 million to the Montreal Protocol.

Those funds are supposed to be used by the Secretariat for Ozone of the United Nations to provide services that would guarantee the effectiveness of both those treaties, said the official.

Contributions were expected to reach about a half billion dollars

Both legal instruments were created in the 1980's to design and execute programs to halt deterioration of the ozone layer which, because it prevents access of ultra-violet solar rays to the planet's surface, is indespensable for life on the planet.

Dowdeswell spoke at the Fourth Conference of Parties to the Vienna Convention and the Eighth Conference of Parties to the Montreal Protocol, held last month in Costa Rica. Ministers of the Environment or their representatives from 164 countries attended the meetings.

Governments have been unable to agree on the amount of money required by the Multilateral Fund to support the voluntary program for the reduction in the consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in developing countries.

The voluntary stage of compliance concludes in 1999. After year 2000, developing countries must embark on the mandatory phase of reducing their consumption of CFCs to 50 percent. CFCs are the substances mainly responsible for destruction of the ozone layer.

The phased elimination of use of these products is scheduled to conclude in the year 2010 in developed countries. 1995 had been set as the deadline for developed countries.

Developed countries, which are responsible for contributing the most to the Fund, expect contributions to reach approximately $500,000,000, but the Group of 77 (G 77) and China expect a contribution of 800 million dollars for the elimination of approximately 45,000 tons of CFCs.

The Minister of the Environment of Costa Rica, Rene Castro, said that sum seemed excessive. And Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres exhorted the developed countries to provide the necessary amount of resources to the Multilateral Fund.

Figueres said the world had learned several lessons in the past decade of struggle against the depletion of the ozone layer. The principle that "whoever pollutes, pays," he said, was important to stop destruction. Furthermore, only with financial and technological resources from the North will the South be able to fulfill its promises.

The president said developing countries should give more political importance to the deterioration of the ozone layer, through the passing of national laws to combat the illegal trafficking of substances which damage it.

Meanwhile, non-governmental organizations should increase awareness about this problem throughout the world, he said.

Dowdeswell recalled that recent measurements of the ozone layer reveal that the danger is far from over. Results obtained in September indicate the destruction of ozone over Antarctica was similar in extension and depth to that observed in the past several years.

Measurements demonstrated that concentrations of CFCs in the atmosphere were decreasing, as well as the levels of methylchloroform, but those of hydrofluorocarbons (HCFC) are on the rise.

HCFC cause less damage to the ozone layer, but are they are also dangerous. These are substances used in industrialized countries in the transition from the use of CFCs towards the substitution with other elements that are totally safe.

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Albion Monitor December 21, 1996 (

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