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Brief Overview

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (the Convention) is a non-binding international agreement developed to address the problem of stratospheric ozone depletion. The Convention was negotiated between 1981 and 1985 and has been ratified by 193 parties. The protocol to the Convention, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the Protocol), was adopted in September 1987 and set out a framework for reducing the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and binding commitments for ratifying parties. The Montreal Protocol entered into force in January 1989 and, as of August 2008, has been ratified by 193 countries.

Parties to the Protocol continue to meet annually, and parties to the Convention meet biannually, to assess their progress in implementing their obligations and to consider particular issues that need to be addressed.
The Ozone Regime

Conference and Meetings of the Parties: Parties to the Convention and to the Protocol continue to adopt decisions, review progress and consider further action through regular meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and of the Meetings of the Parties (MOP). The Conference of Parties is the highest-decision making body of the Convention, and meets biannually, while the Meeting of the Parties meets annually.

Secretariat: The Convention goals and the Protocol obligations are supported by various bodies and organizations. This includes the Ozone Secretariat, which operates in compliance with Article 7 of the Vienna Convention and Article 12 of the Montreal Protocol.  The Secretariat is based in Nairobi, Kenya, at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) offices. The Secretariat’s main duties include servicing the COPs and MOPs, as well as the subsidiary bodies, monitoring implementation of the Convention and the Protocol and reporting to the parties and the Implementation Committee, and serving as a data clearing-house.

Financing and the Multilateral Fund: The Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (the Fund), the first financial mechanism emanating from a multilateral treaty, was established to support countries with low consumption, typically developing countries, to meet their commitments by providing concessional loans. The Fund Secretariat is based in Montreal, Canada, and the Fund is managed by an Executive Committee, which is comprised of seven developing and seven industrialized countries.

Expert Groups and Subsidiary Bodies: The Convention and the Protocol are also supported by a number of expert panels. These include the Scientific Assessment Panel, the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel and the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, which produce reports in accordance with Article 6 of the Protocol. In addition, the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) and its Technical Options Committees and Task Forces provide, at the request of Parties, technical information related to the alternative technologies that have been investigated and employed to reduce ODS consumption and production.
History of the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention

Concerns that the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer could be at risk from CFCs and other anthropogenic substances were first raised in the early 1970s. At that time, scientists warned that the release of these substances into the atmosphere could deplete the ozone layer, hindering its ability to prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching the Earth. This would adversely affect ocean ecosystems, agricultural productivity and animal populations, and harm humans through higher rates of skin cancers, cataracts and weakened immune systems. In response to this growing concern, the issue of ozone depletion was first discussed by the Governing Council of UNEP in 1976. UNEP convened a conference in March 1977 that adopted a World Plan of Action on the Ozone Layer and established a Coordinating Committee of the Ozone Layer (CCOL) to guide future international action on ozone and periodically to assess ozone depletion.

Vienna Convention: In May 1981, the UNEP Governing Council launched negotiations on an international agreement to protect the ozone layer and, in March 1985, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was adopted. The Convention called for cooperation on monitoring, research and information exchange, but did not impose obligations to reduce the use of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). By mid-2008, the Convention had 193 parties.

Montreal Protocol: In September 1987, efforts to negotiate binding obligations to reduce the use of ODS led to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Protocol introduced control measures for some CFCs and halons for developed countries (non-Article 5 parties). Developing countries (Article 5 parties) were granted a grace period allowing them to increase their use of these ODS before taking on commitments. By mid-2007, the Protocol had 193 parties.

The Protocol was designed to allow for revisions to the phase out schedules and the list of controlled substances on the basis of periodic scientific and technological assessments. Since 1987, several amendments (which require ratification by a defined number of parties in order to enter into force) and adjustments (which automatically enter into force) to the Protocol have been adopted, adding new obligations and additional ODS, and adjusting existing control schedules.

London Amendment and Adjustments: Delegates to the second Meeting of the Parties (MOP-2), which took place in London, UK, in 1990, tightened control schedules and agreed to add ten more CFCs to the list of ODS, as well as carbon tetrachloride (CTC) and methyl chloroform. To date, 189 parties have ratified the London Amendment. In addition, MOP-2 established the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (Multilateral Fund). The Multilateral Fund meets the incremental costs incurred by Article 5 parties in implementing the Protocol’s control measures and finances clearinghouse functions, including technical assistance, information, training and the costs of the Multilateral Fund Secretariat. The Fund is replenished every three years, and has disbursed over US$2.4 billion since its establishment.

Copenhagen Amendment and Adjustments: At MOP-4, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1992, delegates tightened existing control schedules and added controls on methyl bromide, hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). MOP-4 also agreed to enact non-compliance procedures and to establish an Implementation Committee. The Implementation Committee examines cases of possible non-compliance by parties, and makes recommendations to the MOP aimed at securing full compliance. As of August 2008, 184 parties have ratified the Copenhagen Amendment.

Montreal Amendment and Adjustments: At MOP-9, held in Montreal, Canada, in 1997, delegates agreed to a new licensing system for the import and export of ODS, in addition to tightening existing control schedules. They also agreed to a ban on trade in methyl bromide with non-parties to the Copenhagen Amendment. As of August 2008, 167 parties have ratified the Montreal Amendment.

Beijing Amendment and Adjustments: At MOP-11, held in Beijing, China, in 1999, delegates agreed to controls on bromochloromethane and additional controls on HCFCs, and to reporting on methyl bromide for quarantine and pre-shipment (QPS) applications. MOP-11 also agreed to replenish the Multilateral Fund with US$440 million for the triennium 2000-2002. As of August 2008, 143 parties have ratified the Beijing Amendment.
Recent Meetings of the Parties and Conferences of the Parties

MOPs 12-14: MOP-12, held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2000, adopted the Ouagadougou Declaration, which encouraged parties to take steps to prevent illegal production, consumption and trade in ODS, and harmonize customs codes. The following year in Colombo, Sri Lanka, delegates to MOP-13 adopted the Colombo Declaration, which encouraged parties to apply due care in using substances that may have ozone depletion potential, and to determine and use available, accessible and affordable alternatives and technologies that minimize environmental harm while protecting the ozone layer. At MOP-14, held in Rome, Italy, in 2002, delegates adopted 46 decisions, covering such matters as the Multilateral Fund’s fixed-exchange-rate mechanism, compliance issues, and interaction with the World Trade Organization. MOP-14 also agreed to replenish the Multilateral Fund with US$474 million for 2003-2005.

MOP-15: Like its predecessors, MOP-15, held in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2003, resulted in decisions on a range of issues, including the implications of the entry into force of the Beijing Amendment. However, parties could not reach agreement on four items relating to methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting pesticide scheduled for a 2005 phase-out by non-Article 5 parties. Disagreements surfaced over exemptions allowing the use of methyl bromide beyond 2004 for “critical” uses where no technically or economically feasible alternatives are available. As a result of these disagreements, delegates took the unprecedented step of calling for an “extraordinary” MOP.

First Extraordinary MOP: The first Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (ExMOP-1) took place from 24-26 March 2004, in Montreal, Canada. Parties agreed to critical-use exemptions (CUEs) for methyl bromide for 2005 only. The introduction of a “double-cap” concept distinguishing between old and new production of methyl bromide was central to this compromise. Parties agreed to a cap for new production of 30% of parties’ 1991 baseline levels, meaning that where the capped amount was insufficient for approved critical uses in 2005, parties were required to use existing stockpiles. Parties also achieved compromises on conditions for approving and reporting on CUEs, and the working procedures of the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC).

MOP-16: MOP-16 took place in Prague, Czech Republic, from 22-26 November 2004. The parties adopted decisions on the Multilateral Fund, and on issues relating to ratification, data reporting, compliance, international and illegal trade in ODS, and financial and administrative matters. Despite lengthy discussions in the plenary, contact groups and informal gatherings, work on methyl bromide exemptions for 2006 was not completed. For the second time in the Protocol’s history, parties decided to hold an extraordinary MOP.

Second Extraordinary MOP: ExMOP-2 was held on 1 July 2005, in Montreal, Canada. Parties agreed to supplementary levels of CUEs for 2006 that had been left unresolved at MOP-16. Under the decision, parties also agreed that: CUEs allocated domestically that exceed levels permitted by the MOP must be drawn from existing stocks; methyl bromide stocks must be reported; and parties must “endeavor” to allocate CUEs to the particular categories specified in the decision.

COP-7/MOP-17: MOP-17 was held jointly with the seventh Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention in Dakar, Senegal, from 12-16 December 2005. Parties approved essential-use exemptions for 2006 and 2007, supplemental CUEs for 2006 and CUEs for 2007. They authorized production and consumption of methyl bromide in non-Article 5 parties for laboratory and analytical critical uses, and requested the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) to report on such uses. Other decisions concerned, inter alia: submission of information on methyl bromide in space fumigation; replenishment of the Multilateral Fund with US$470.4 million for 2006-2008; and the terms of reference for a feasibility study on developing a monitoring system for the transboundary movement of controlled ODS.

MOP-18: MOP-18 took place in New Delhi, India, from 30 October - 3 November 2006. MOP-18 adopted decisions on: essential-use nominations and other issues arising out of the 2006 reports of the TEAP; future work following the Secretariat’s workshop on the Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the TEAP; critical-use nominations; difficulties faced by some Article 5 parties manufacturing CFC-based MDIs; treatment of stockpiled ODS relative to compliance; a feasibility study on developing a system for monitoring the transboundary movement of ODS; and key challenges to be faced by parties in protecting the ozone layer over the next decade.

MOP-19: MOP-19 took place in Montreal, Canada, from 17-21 September 2007. Parties agreed to accelerate the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and took decisions on essential-use nominations and critical-use nominations, as well asd on monitoring transboundary movements and illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

MOP-20: The eighth Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the twentieth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (COP-8/MOP-20) took place in Doha, Qatar, from 16-20 November 2008. At this first “paperless” meeting, parties adopted a Doha Declaration and 29 decisions, including on: ratification; compliance; destruction of ozone depleting substances (ODS); essential- and critical-use exemptions; process agents; and financial and administrative matters. The decision on the replenishment of the Multilateral Fund for the triennium 2009-2011, agreeing to replenish the fund with US$490 million, resolved a debate about the resources necessary to support the acceleration of the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). On another of the important issues considered at COP-8/MOP-20, the destruction of ODS, delegates agreed to request: the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund to commence pilot projects; the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) to undertake a cost-benefit analysis taking into consideration both climate and ozone benefits; and the Secretariat to explore funding opportunities.

Current ODS Control Schedules: Under the amendments to the Montreal Protocol, non-Article 5 parties were required to phase out production and consumption of: halons by 1994; CFCs, CTC, hydrobromochlorofluorocarbons and methyl chloroform by 1996; bromochloromethane by 2002; and methyl bromide by 2005. Article 5 parties were required to phase out production and consumption of hydrobromochlorofluorocarbons by 1996 and bromochloromethane by 2002. Article 5 parties must still phase out: production and consumption of CFCs, halons and CTC by 2010; and methyl chloroform and methyl bromide by 2015. Under the accelerated phase-out of HCFC adopted at MOP-19, HCFC production and consumption by Article 2 countries was to be frozen in 2004 and phased out by 2020, while in Article 5 parties, HCFC production and consumption is to be frozen by 2013 and phased out by 2030 (with interim targets prior to those dates, starting in 2015 for Article 5 parties). There are exemptions to these phase outs to allow for certain uses lacking feasible alternatives.

OEWG-29: This meeting was preceded by the Workshop on the Environmentally Sound Management of Banks of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS), held 13 July 2009, and the Dialogue on High-Global Warming Potential (GWP) ODS Alternatives, held 14 July 2009. At OEWG-29, delegates considered several issues arising from the 2009 Progress Report of the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP), including on: a campaign production for CFC metered-dose inhalers (MDIs); a review of nominations of essential use exemptions for 2010 and 2011; a review of nominations for methyl bromide critical-use exemptions for 2010 and 2011; a discussion of the interim report of the methyl bromide quarantine and pre-shipment (QPS) applications Task Force; and laboratory and analytical use exemptions. Parties also discussed the treatment of stockpiled ODS relative to compliance, a proposed evaluation of the Multilateral Fund, and institutional strengthening of national ozone units. OEWG-29 considered a proposal by Mauritius and the Federated States of Micronesia to amend the Montreal Protocol to collect and destroy ODS banks and to regulate the phase-down of HFCs.
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