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Accord near on major financial infusion to help preserve ozone layer, UN agency reports

Accord near on major financial infusion to help preserve ozone layer, UN agency reports

Some 100 governments meeting in Rome this week are set to agree on a major funding package that will channel hundreds of millions of dollars towards helping poorer nations reduce their reliance on ozone-depleting chemicals over the next three years, the United Nations said today.

“Completing the phase-out of CFCs by developing countries is the number one priority today for the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer,” said Klaus Toepfer, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which organized the talks that led to the adoption of the 1987 agreement.

According to UNEP, if – and only if – all countries meet their Montreal Protocol targets, the stratospheric ozone layer will stabilize and then return to full health within 50 years. “This recovery is vital for protecting human beings and the natural environment from the harmful effects of too much ultra-violet radiation,” Mr. Toepfer said. “Clearly, the funds that the donors commit here in Rome this week will be money well spent.”

Under the Protocol, developing countries are committed to reducing their consumption and production of CFCs by half in the year 2005 and by 85 per cent in 2007. They were required to freeze their CFC levels in 1999, while developed countries phased out CFCs almost completely in 1996. Other substances, including halons and the fumigant methyl bromide, are also regulated under the agreement.

Negotiators must now decide on the 2003-2005 replenishment of the Protocol's Multilateral Fund, which helps developing countries to move to CFC-free refrigerators, air conditioners and other consumer products. They will also close down CFC production facilities and increase production of ozone-friendly chemicals.

The Fund was set up in 1990 to help developing States adopt ozone-friendly chemicals and processes. To date, it has disbursed some $1.3 billion to phase-out the production and consumption of over 200,000 tons of ozone-depleting substances in 134 nations.

Disbursements are made through UNEP, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Bank.