Nairobi, December 2016 – For many people across the world, the 15th of October, 2016 was just another normal day going about their usual business to accomplish their to-do lists for the day. Perhaps unknown to many outside the world of ‘environment’ and all its jargon, something extremely significant was happening in Africa, in the beautiful Rwanda. Delegates from all over the world had convened in the capital, Kigali from October 10-15, for the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.
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.
A unique feature of the protocol is an adjustment provision that enables the Parties to the Protocol to respond quickly to new scientific information, in a bid to accelerate the reductions required on chemicals already covered by the Protocol. These adjustments are then automatically applicable to all countries that ratified the Protocol. Developing countries are given more time to comply with the phase out decisions, and also they receive funding from the Multilateral Fund to facilitate compliance with the Protocol’s provisions.