Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) phase out in the Cook Islands
This year, 2012 is the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the treaty this project is based on. This protocol is considered to be one of the most successful environmental treaties in the world. Through global enlistment, it has sucessfully phased out chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) and is phasing out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC’s) right now.
Since its creation, scientists have noted that further depletion of the ozone layer has diminished compared to the depletion that would have taken place had controls not been placed on the ozone depleting substances. By now, the ozone layer would have been depleted by up to two thirds its original cover.
An update on the Ozone Project
The Cook Islands is now at the stage of implementing the HCFC Phase out Management Plan (HPMP). This will require adherance to the Environment Act (Ozone Layer Protection) Regulations 2008 in which those importing ozone depleting substances into the Cook Islands will have to apply for a permit to do so. The import permit application can be downloaded on page 4.
In addition to this, the National Ozone Unit is working on updating the regulation to include the provision of a Technicians Licence for service technicians to have in order to service equipment containing ozone depleting substances legally. This measure includes the requirement for technicians to attend ‘Good Practices in Refrigeration’ training and refreshers. This training covers the proper handling of the ozone depleting substances and education on the effects of the substances so that technicians will become more mindful that they need to avoid as much as possible, any gas leakages or discharges into the atmosphere.
The other new provisions is to create a quota system for amounts of ozone depleting substances imported by each company. This quota is set to decrease over time to eventual phase out. Premises or companies that store and/or sell ozone depleting substances will also have to be permitted to do so and will need to fill particular criteria to obtain a permit to sell or store ozone depleting substances. The requirement for licences or permits to sell and store ozone depleting substances will also be added to the regulation.
All these additions need to become implemented into the Cook Islands law to fulfil our obligations to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol. As the Cook Islands are a Party to these treaties, so shall the Cook Island follow the protocols put in place to reduce and phase out ozone depleting substances.
Below is the basic workplan for the National Ozone Unit. ODS refers to ozone depleting substances.
From the 5th to the 9th of December 2011 the Ozone Depleting Substances Project conducted the ‘Good Practices in Refrigeration’ training for technicians based in Rarotonga and Aitutaki with one flown in to Rarotonga from Mitiaro. The course was conducted by the in-house techncian of the Fiji National Ozone Unit. This is in preparation for the new regulation amendments and to also create awareness of ozone depletion amongst technicians. It was felt this was a very successful training that made technicians more aware of ozone depletion and reinforced the practice of minimising the release of HCFC’s into the air. Now, the technicians are beginning to form an association.
ODS Import Permit for the importation of bulk ODS – existing
ODS Equipment Import Permit for the importation of appliances that contain ODS – may be introduced to monitor all amounts of gases coming in and track ODS based equipment
Technicians Licence for the handling and use of ODS
Technicians training ‘Good Practices in Refrigeration’
Based on a system whereby import figures for 2009 and 2010 are collated and divided amongst importers into their standing percentages of the total. This is set to decrease over the years to eventual complete phase out in 2020 (Option 2 in HPMP) or 2040 (Option 1 in HPMP).
Option 1: Montreal Protocol, reductions in HCFC’s
– 2015: 10% reduction
– 2020: 35% reduction
– 2025: 67.5% reduction
– Over next 10 years: 97.5% reduction
Option 2: The preferred option of the National Ozone Unit
– 2013: ban of HCFC equipment imports and 15% reduction of HCFC for servicing existing equipment
The idea here is that if HCFC based equipment is banned there won’t be an increase of HCFC imports, it will just be the servicing of existing units that will come to the end of their life most likely by 2020. In addition to this, a survey of household refrigerators showed that already 94.1% of those households surveyed are already non HCFC based.
From the 29th November to the 1st of December 2011, a customs training took place in order to train Customs officers to identify and monitor ozone depleting substances and also methods of smuggling. There is some concern with the upcoming HCFC Phase out, that smuggling will start to occur.
NES – National Ozone Unit
Establish and operate permit, licence and quota systems (the licensing system)
Establish an ODS ‘fund’ for the safe disposal of ODS.
The National Ozone Officer and the Director of the National Environment Service attended the Joint Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Bali from the 21st to the 25th of November 2011. Invaluable information and experience was gathered at this conference to better understand global ozone depleting issues and also to observe how the larger developed and developing countries have opposing views on issues. During a discussion the National Environment Service Director made a most impressive statement on behalf of the Cook Islands to support the issue of monitoring Hydroflurocarbons (HFC) which are not ozone depleting but have a much higher global warming potential than ODS and carbon dioxide.