by: Daniel Stouffer
Since the inception of the Montreal protocol, the importance of placing greater focus on protecting the ozone layer has already shown decreases in ozone depleting substances. One can only reinforce the importance of accurate record keeping and refrigerant data management as new laws specifically targeting the reduction in refrigerant gas emissions as well as the growing, global mandatory carbon emission protocols.
Under the Montreal Protocol, production and use of substances that have been identified to deplete the ozone layer will be phased out by 2000, with other substances following in subsequent years. These substances are chlorofluorocarbons, halons, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform. Also included are hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which contribute to global warming and enhanced levels of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs). Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are used in refrigerants, solvents, fire extinguishers and the manufacture of plastic foam.
The Montreal Protocol followed the international Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer agreement, which ended in 1985. In 1990 and 1992, the Montreal Protocol was amended significantly to extend the 2000 refrigerant gas phase out deadline. Through further enhancements, organizations in many countries may continue to use CHCs but only up to 15 percent of the 1986 baseline. This extension was aimed at helping developing countries meet their needs for essential items like medical devices. Developing countries, however, have a deadline of 2010 to phase out chlorofluorocarbons and carbon tetrachloride and until 2015 to stop production of methyl chloroform.
The revised Montreal Protocol currently calls for developed countries, such as the United States, to phase out hydrochlorofluorocarbons according to the following schedule: 35% reduction in 2004; 65% reduction in 2010; 90% reduction in 2015; 99.5% reduction in 2020; and 100% phase out in 2030. The agreement calls for 0.5 percent to be established as reserves to service repairs on HVAC-R systems and equipment. For developing countries, 2040 is the deadline for a complete phase out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons.
In establishing a timeframe for reducing the use of ozone depleting substances, the Montreal Protocol looked at scientific, environmental, technical and economic information. Several reports are looking into alternatives that can be used to replace ozone depleting substances in the areas of refrigeration, agriculture, energy production, and laboratory measurements.
A key component of the Montreal Protocol agreement is its continuous monitoring of facilities to make certain that proper control measures are in place for dealing with substances that are harmful to the environment, i.e. most often called ozone depleting substances (ODS). Clean-Tech development companies often specialize in refrigerant management programs. They can assist businesses and industries in complying with the environmental regulations and laws related to ozone destruction. Refrigerant tracking solutions, when deployed as a web-based solution, are a helpful tool in ensuring that the necessary forms are submitted to meet the EPA reporting requirements.
Because various industries have focused their efforts on air pollutants, the use of many ozone depleting substances has already been greatly reduced. The Montreal Protocol, via unprecedented international cooperation, is working well with goal to be achieved ahead of schedule. The focus, however, remains on companies and industries that fail to comply with the protocols under the agreement.
Many members of the United Nations are in agreement and following The Montreal Protocol. If all requirements under Montreal Protocol 1987 are followed according to schedule, it is expected that the ozone layer will recover by 2050. So far, the protocol is considered by many to be the most successful international agreement in history.
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