Global militaries enlisted to combat climate change and save ozone layer – UN

20 November 2008

The United Nations has recruited the help of militaries in several countries in a unique new partnership in the fight against climate change and the campaign to save the ozone layer.

Australia, the Netherlands and the United States have offered their militaries’ assistance in the safe collection of stockpiles of unwanted, ozone-damaging substances, and their experts will provide advice on how to expedite the shipping of chemicals to disposal centres worldwide.

This partnership, spearheaded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Defense, could potentially slash by two-thirds or more the cost of disposing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are highly damaging to the ozone layer, a thin layer of gas high in the air that filters out the sun’s harmful rays.

“The military in many countries have been at the forefront of efforts to phase out ozone-depleting substances (ODS),” said Marco Gonzales, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “Their experience can be invaluable for developing countries facing similar challenges.”

Many militaries already have competitively-priced contracts in place for storing these chemicals in old air conditioning units and other equipment, and it is hoped that this will serve as an incentive for civilians to take part in these low-cost programmes.

Over 90 per cent of these harmful substances have been phased out already, but significant quantities of them are still kept in old equipment.

A UN-backed gathering of 150 governments which are party to the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention, both of which seek to protect the ozone layer, wrapping up today in Doha, Qatar, was warned that these containers could release several billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2015.

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