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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d93jan108

The MONTREAL PROTOCOL on ozone protection, last modified by the 1990 London amendments, was formally strengthened by over 80 participating nations at a November meeting in Copenhagen. Termination of production of CFCs and carbon tetrachloride has been moved up four years to Jan. 1, 1996, that of halons advanced six years to 1994, and that of methyl chloroform moved to 1996.

Two issues debated at the last working group meeting (GCCD, p. 155, Sep.) were addressed. Production of HCFCs, the interim CFC substitutes coming into use, will be limited to 800,000 tons per year, to be gradually phased out over the period 2004 to 2020. There was less agreement on the future use of methyl bromide, a widely used pesticide. The U.S. pushed for an outright ban by the year 2000, but was opposed by the European Community and developing countries. Instead, a production freeze at 1991 levels will begin in 1995, by which time a scientific assessment of the need for further restrictions is to be finished.

A permanent Multilateral Fund was established to continue the assistance to developing countries already underway through an interim fund. Contribution commitments were increased to $340-$500 million for 1994-1995, even though a large fraction of the 1991-92 commitments have not yet been paid. (See New Scientist, p. 8, Nov. 21 1992, and comments by U.S. EPA Administrator William Reilly in the first citation below.) As in previous meetings, controversy again erupted over a proposal by some industrial countries including the U.K. to merge this fund with the Global Environment Facility run by the World Bank. The move was successfully blocked by several other industrial countries including the U.S. and developing countries.

According to the following accounts, representatives of industry were pleased with the HCFC agreement, while it did not go far enough for many environmentalists. Environmentalists were also disappointed by the weak agreement on bromide, as was executive director of UNEP, Mostafa Tolba, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Lengthy analyses appear in Intl. Environ. Rptr. (pp. 769-772, Dec. 2) and Global Environ. Change Rep. (pp. 1-3, Dec. 4). Shorter accounts are in Chem. Eng. News (p. 5, Dec. 7), Science News (p. 415, Dec. 12), and New Scientist (p. 10, Dec. 5). Methyl bromide is the focus of an article in ibid. (p. 5, Nov. 28) as well a report released before the meeting by U.S. environmental groups.

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