Press Releases

         10 September 2004

    Secretary-General Says Success of Montreal Protocol Protecting Ozone Layer Should Inspire Parties to Other Environmental Agreements

    NEW YORK, 9 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, observed 16 September:

    The theme of this year’s observance of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is “Save our Sky: Ozone Friendly Planet, Our Target”.

    When the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in Montreal 17 years ago, it was not at all clear that it would be possible to phase out ozone-depleting substances within the short period envisaged by the agreement. Today, more than 90 per cent of the global production and consumption of those substances has indeed been phased out. Moreover, consistent progress is being made towards reducing and eliminating any remaining production and consumption. I congratulate all parties to the Montreal Protocol for this remarkable success.

    However, there are still some challenges to overcome before the job is complete, among them:

    -- Achieving, by 1 January 2005, a 50 per cent reduction in the consumption of some ozone-depleting substances in developing countries. Some of them may not meet this target and will require additional financial and technical assistance.

    -- Phasing out the production and consumption of methyl bromide. As of next year, this will be banned in the developed countries, except for quantities approved by the parties to the Montreal Protocol for critical uses, mainly in the field of agriculture.

    -- Phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in medical “inhalers” for treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. This has proved to be slow and difficult, even though there are alternatives to CFCs. This suggests the need to continue raising public awareness about ozone-friendly products, and for international cooperation in making them available.

    -- Cracking down on the illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances, and on unauthorized production and consumption.

    Recent findings indicate that the rate of ozone layer depletion in the stratosphere is declining, and we are now seeing the first signs of the recovery of the ozone layer. At the same time, these same scientists are warning that the ozone layer will remain particularly vulnerable during the next decade or so.

    On this International Day, let us strengthen our commitment to the full compliance with the Montreal Protocol by developed and developing countries alike. And let us hope that the enormous gains that have been made under this agreement will inspire the parties to other multilateral environmental agreements to implement those obligations as well.

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