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Nation ensures ozone protection goal
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-17 00:25

China will reach its goal of phasing out ozone depleting substances (ODSs) by 2010 on time, a senior environmental official said Thursday.

The Chinese Government's commitment to the protection of the ozone layer has made remarkable progress, said Vice-Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration Wang Jirong..

She was attending a celebration held in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, which was to commemorate Thursday's 10th International Ozone Day.

Under the national ODSs phase-out plans, the production and consumption of major ODSs have been greatly reduced in China.

By the end of last year, the production output and consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) had dropped by 40 per cent and 55 per cent respectively in comparison to that in 1997. Meanwhile, the production and consumption of Halons had dropped 85 per cent.

CFCs are more widely known as freon. Halon, another ozone-depleting substance, is used mainly as a fire-extinguishing agent.

"We are confident of our ability to reach the goal set for 2010 to reduce the production output and consumption of major ODSs to zero and will thus realize the Chinese Government's commitment to the international community," Wang said.

US$740 million of funds have been approved by the Multilateral Fund to support China's phase-out efforts, involving more than 400 projects, Wang said.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987, calling for a stop to the production and consumption of compounds that deplete the ozone layer. The Multilateral Fund is a financial mechanism created to help developing countries meet the agreed incremental costs of fulfilling the protocol's control measures.

After years of development, China's enterprises and research bodies have been able to develop and produce a series of ODS substitutes, Wang added.

In addition, the country has set up and improved a system of policies, laws and regulations on the phase-out of ODSs.

Marco Antonio Gonzalez, executive secretary of the United Nations Environment Programme Ozone Secretariat, said China's achievements in ozone layer protection are noticeable.

However, China needs to strengthen the enforcement framework to control the production, consumption and trade of ODSs, he said.

There is also a need to focus on research and development of ODS substitutes, he added.

Thursday at the celebration, nine organizations, companies and individuals were granted Ozone Layer Protection Contribution Awards, which were set up last year to reward those making remarkable contributions to the protection of the ozone layer.

The production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances in the past several decades have caused substantial damage to the ozone layer.

The international community agreed at the Vienna Convention in 1985 and the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to try to control the problem. In 1995, the UN decided to mark September 16 as International Ozone Day.

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