Tenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol

Given below is a statement of Shri Suresh P Prabhu, Hon'ble Union Minister for Environment & Forests, Government of India at the Tenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The meeting was held in Cairo on November 23-24, 1998.

Mr President, please accept my congratulations and best wishes on your election to the chair of this Tenth Meeting of the Parties which is taking place at a historic and critical juncture in our collective endeavour to protect the global environment by phasing out substances that deplete the ozone layer. It gives us great happiness that this important meeting is being held in a country known for its ancient culture and rich civilisation. On behalf of the people and the Government of my country, I express my most sincere thanks and appreciation of the excellent arrangements made by the government of Egypt for this meeting. It is indeed a privilege for me to visit this beautiful country and I am impressed by the warmth, hospitality, efficiency and sincerity of the people of this great country. Countries like Egypt and India are now facing the challenge of transiting a modern and eclectic environment in the contemporary world.

Mr President, this transition to modernity and eclecticism of our historic civilisations is reflected in our commitment to the Montreal Protocol. Without doubt, the Montreal Protocol is a very successful model of global environmental cooperation. This cooperation has been nurtured by the understanding shown by the developed countries of the problems faced by developing countries. This has enabled the developing countries to play a meaningful role in phasing out the use of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) which is essential for ensuring a clean and safe environment for our children and further generations. The agreed implementation mechanism for this needs to be fully supported by all-round cooperation.

Mr President, during the last 11 years we have made many meaningful strides. I am happy to state that India has been a very active participant in the movement of the Montreal Protocol. I take this opportunity in front of this august gathering, Mr President, to reiterate India=s total commitment to the objectives of the Montreal Protocol. Our endeavour in the last half-decade has been to create awareness among the Article 2 and Article 5 countries on the issues and problems of developing countries and to encourage enterprises to come forward with phase-out projects and adopt ozone friendly technologies at the earliest. We will continue these efforts in our country and I am certain we will be able to fulfill our commitment to the first freeze level of July 01, 1999 in consumption and production sectors.

The Government of India has already taken a number of policy measures, both legislative and fiscal, to encourage early adoption of non-ODS technologies. Our emphasis on certifying ODS consumption in phase-out projects, licensing export and import of ODS, banning export to non-Article 5 countries and our system of granting duty exemptions for goods needed for non-ODS projects approved by the Multilateral Fund show our Government=s commitment to the Montreal Protocol. The duty exemption has also been extended for new establishments with non-ODS technologies. Our financial institutions have stopped funding new investments in India with ODS technologies from as early as 1995. We have recently developed very detailed draft rules to regulate ODS phase- out under the Environment Protection Act which we hope to put in place well before the 1999 freeze date. Our future success in this onerous task is now dependent on speedy resolution of challenging issues which confront us regarding phase-out projects in the production sector, use of ODS as process agent in the solvent sector and adopting innovative methodologies to phase-out ODS in the largely untapped small and medium enterprises.

Mr President, a major challenge now confronting the global community is to harmonise the policies of phase-out of ODS under the Montreal Protocol and controlling emissions of the green house gases under the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries which are in the midst of the phasing out process are most concerned about this matter and need immediate and good answers to this problem so that the momentum of phase-out does not receive any setback.

Mr President, we still have many challenges to overcome. A matter of concern to us is that the guidelines for funding projects for closure of ODS production facilities are yet to be finalised despite a clear decision of the MOP in this matter in the past. However, the completion of technical audit of the chloroflurocarbon (CFC) pro-ducing units, provides hope that CFC production phase-out projects would be considered for approval in the very near future. We hope that adequate funding will be provided as compensation to the CFC producing units in the developing countries. India has to meet the target of reducing CFC production in a phased manner and to the level of 50 per cent of the average production of 1995-1997 period by 2005.

Another important area for us is that funding projects for phasing out of Carbon Tetrachloride (CTC), used as a process agent, has not been given priority by the Executive Committee and this matter is under consideration of this Meeting. A fair and favourable decision in this regard is a must to enable the developing countries to meet the target of 85 per cent reduction of use of CTC by 2005. It needs to be recognised that the phase-out schedule in this sector provides for 85 per cent use of Carbon Tetrachloride consum-ption by 2005, without any intermediate phase- out of 50 per cent as in other ODS phase-outs. In order to meet these targets, India needs adequate and early funding from the Multilateral Fund. India's concerns are shared by a number of developing countries.

Mr President, the Multi-lateral Fund has been of crucial significance in the phase-out process. The time has come Mr President, to now initiate discussion on an adequate replenishment for 2000-2002. This matter is of great significance for the Article 5 countries. Non Article 5 countries need to view this with the greatest amount of concern and commitment, keeping in view the fast approaching phase-out schedule of the Protocol after the first freeze in 1999 and thereafter in 2002. We do share the concern that there is a resource crunch and that the available funds should be utilised effectively and properly. We do need to recall that these efforts are all geared towards containment and rectification of a damage which has largely been caused by the developed countries. Mr President, I need to point out that although the commitment under the Montreal Protocol is to meet the incremental cost in full, overall cost effectiveness thresholds have been imposed by the system while sanctioning the projects which have depleted the allocations to the Article 5 countries and the special needs of small and medium enterprises have also not been adequately addressed. However, I am glad to know that the Executive Committee at its XXV Meeting has decided to have a funding window for US$ 10 million in the 1999 business plan for pilot demonstration projects for SMEs projects in the aerosol and foam sectors at the 150 per cent of threshold value of the relevant sector. This welcome initiative provides a hope that the problems of SMEs may now be addressed effectively.

Mr President, the need to protect the ozone layer has also to be seen in the context of protecting human health. It is the responsibility of the MOP to ensure that any decision taken on the issue of non CFC-MDI does not jeopardise the health of millions of asthma patients in developing countries. We look forward to the day when the technology to produce HFC-134a and non-CFC MDIs will be transferred to enterprises in the developing countries under fair and most favourable conditions.

Mr President, we have voiced our concern about financial assistance with the hope that constructive and helpful solutions would be found by the experts and the various negotiating fora. We will continue to flag these issues in various fora where these specific issues are discussed. Mr President, India has demonstrated its commitment to the Protocol and CFC consumption in India has largely remained constant during the last three years. We are at a very critical stage where the momentum generated in the past has to be further strengthened. There is no room for complacency. Our further success in this task is dependent on decisions of this meeting. I am confident that under your able leadership, this Meeting of Parties will not only reach successful conclusions but also make it a meeting of historical importance and take positive decisions for the preservation of our ecology and the well being of future generations.

In the end, I take this opportunity to thank on behalf of the people and Government of India, the Government of Egypt, and the UNEP, the Implementing Agencies, NGOs and other organisations who have always been willing to understand and appreciate our problems and whose guidance has been always available to us.