Like the rest of the world, Bangladesh is also observing the World Ozone Day 2020 with the theme "Ozone for life - 35 years of ozone layer protection".
Every year on September 16, the world observes this day to create mass awareness on the protection of the Ozone layer. The year 2020 marks 35 years of the Vienna Convention and Ozone layer protection.
The Ozone protects our planet by absorbing the harmful ultra-violet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun. This gas is naturally present in two regions of the atmosphere - troposphere and stratosphere.
The depletion of the Ozone layer allows UV radiation to enter into the earth's atmosphere and impac human health, marine ecosystem, food chain, global warming and climate change.
Its depletion reduces the amount of Ozone in the stratosphere but increases in the troposphere where Ozone is considered a pollutant and a Greenhouse Gas (GHG).
The Ozone layer got damaged due to excessive industrial use of Ozono Depleting Substances in refrigeration and air conditioning appliances, foam production, cleaning solvents, process agents, propellent, fire protection, aerospace, electronics, agriculture, and laboratory measurements.
The first clear sign of the damage in the stratosphere was reported in 1985 by the British Antarctic Survey Team, which had been measuring ozone levels over the Antarctic since 1957.
In the same year, the world adopted the non-binding "Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer".
In 1987world leaders got themselves united by adopting the legally binding Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer by hasing out the production of numerous substances including chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), halons, methyl bromide (MBr), carbon tetrachloride (CTC), methyl chloroform (MCF), hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), hydro Bromo fluorocarbon (HBFC), all of which are responsible for Ozone depletion.
Bangladesh ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and since then the country took many credible actions and achieved remarkable progress in phasing out the hazardous substances.
The country accessed the Montreal Protocol and Vienna Convention on August 2 1990, and subsequently ratified the London, Copenhagen, Montreal, Beijing treaties in 1994, 2000, 2001 and 2010 respectively.
Bangladesh has implemented more than two dozen projects to phase out the ODS with financial support from the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund. The country also got technical support from the Department of Environment (DoE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The south-east Asian delta's commitment and conclusive actions to achieve the goals of the Montreal Protocol led the country to achieve 100 percent phase-out of CFCs, CTC, MCF, Halons, MBr.
Besides, Bangladesh is the first developing country to phase-out HCFC-141b in the manufacturing of insulation foam as a foam blowing agent.
In 2004, Bangladesh promulgated the National Ozone Depleting Substances (Control) Rules. It was later amended in 2014.
In November 2017, Bangladesh government achieved the "Certificate of Appreciation" from the United Nations Environment for achieving all reduction targets under the Montreal Protocol.
Bangladesh returned to a state of compliance by phasing-out CFCs from aerosol and reduced consumption of ODSs in the pharmaceutical sector in 2012 by over 50 percent.
In January 2010, CFCs from the commercial and servicing sector, CTC and MCF from the solvent sector etc. were phased out as well. The CFCs used in the manufacturing of metered-dose inhaler in the country and HCFC-141b in the production of insulation foam in refrigerator sector was phased-out in January 2013.
The Walton Hi-Tech Industries Ltd successfully executed a non-ODS but high global warming potential chemical HFC phase-out project in 2019 with technical assistance from DoE and UNDP. The project phased out about 230.63 MT of HFC-134a per annum equivalent to 329,801 Tons of CO2 emission.
The project also improved the efficiency of the products that saved an estimated 42 million kWh electricity per annum.
On June 8 this year, Bangladesh ratified the Kigali Amendment, which was enforced on September 6. In line with the aim of this amendment, the country is about to start the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan-II (HPMP-II) project.
It will help to further phase-out ODS from the conversion technologies in the domestic air-conditioners manufacturing and chiller sector.
The govt envisaged the adoption of non-ODS and low-global warming potential alternatives in air conditioner and chiller sector and aimed to reduce 17.09 ODP tons of HCFC (1.7 million tons of CO2-equivalent) emissions by implementing this project. A total of 67.5 percent HCFC will be phased out by 2025.
The phasing-out of HCFCs and HFCs created the largest opportunity to reduce global warming while achieving the target set in the Paris Climate Agreement.
In compliance with the treaty, Bangladesh will reduce HCFC consumption by 97.5 percent by 2030 under the follow-up project (HPMP-III) and within 2040 rest of the HCFC consumption under HPMP-IV. The country is now formulating National Cooling Plan to reduce emission from the cooling sector.
The National Ozone Unit (NoU) at the DoE, does not have any permanent staff and is managed mostly by project support. Therefore, the government should consider creating a permanent position at the DoE to administer the NoU and monitor the ODS related compliance.
The capacity of the key institutions like DoE, Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institutions, Bangladesh Customs, and National Board of Revenue needs to be enhanced in the areas of standard and labelling, certification, data reporting system, management of illegal import of ODS, energy efficiency and conversion technology, etc.
Mass awareness and capacity building of private sector stakeholder is also required on data reporting, green and safe technology transfer, conversion technology, workers occupational health and safety, etc.
Moreover, concessional finance is required to promote green and safe cooling industry which will bring environmental, social, economic and climate benefit in the long run.
It is of utmost importance for Bangladesh to introduce a standard licensing system for HFCs as well as specific harmonized system (HS codes) for different HFCs and HFC containing mixtures by making amendments to the existing ODS rules by 2nd January 2021.
The Way Forward
In 2014, the scientists reported that ozone hole recovered and predicted that the world is on the right track to repairing the ozone layer to pre-1980 levels by the middle of this century. They also estimated that the Montreal Protocol has avoided around 135 Giga-tones of CO2-equivalent globally.
It is also expected to prevent the emissions of up to 105 million tons of CO2-equivalent of greenhouse gases, helping to avoid up to 0.5℃ of global temperature rise by 2100.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, "As we rightly focus our energies on tackling climate change, we must be careful not to neglect the ozone layer and stay alert to the threat posed by the illegal use of ozone-depleting gases".
There is no other alternative but collective decisions and action guided by science-backed policy to neutralize this threat.
This year's theme "Ozone for life", reminds us that the world must act collectively and do more to protect the Ozone layer and keep the planet livable – for us and the future generations.
Disclaimer: Authors are working at UNDP Bangladesh.
The views expressed in this article are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of their employer.