Special Speech

speech2009 USEPA’s  Stratospheric Ozone Protection and Climate Protection Awards

Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Washington DC,

By Rajendra Shende, UNEP DTIE ,

21 April 2009

Ms. Elizabeth Craig, award winners, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

My hearty congratulations to the award winners and my sincere appreciation to USEPA for admirable   organization of this evening’s momentous award ceremony in the landmark venue of Washington DC.  I consider it as immense privilege to address such a distinguished gathering and I thank the organizers for giving me this distinctive opportunity.

What a day it was for me! In a single day, in Washington  today,  I met a Governor, a Senator, officials of EPA. NGO and Industry representatives and the action-enthusiasts who ‘just want to do it’. The spring is not only on the DC’s trees and around the Potomac river, I felt it in minds of the people. I smelled hope, I felt the change and I saw the signs of actions to address the climate change.

I was here in 2005 to accept the USEPA Ozone Protection award. Four year later, here I am again for the Climate Protection award. Getting such award in this ambience replete with hopes of change is rewarding experience.

Today I will receive 2009 Climate protection award. My colleague Samira De Gobert would receive Ozone layer protection award. We work in the same office, for  same programme with same objective. We promote single solution to two of the world’s most formidable challenges that we are facing today.

I do not intend to speak on  how the Montreal Protocol is the most successful global environmental accord so far.  Nor am I standing here to draw the list of lessons from the Montreal Protocol. I am aware that there is, to a certain degree, an “ozone’s  success fatigue”  and even what some of you  in a lighter mood might call yet another global crisis:  the “ozone success crisis”.

What I wish to convey this evening , however , are the compelling messages emanating from another part of the world – the world where I come from and for whose assistance my programme in UNEP’s offices in Paris, Bangkok, Nairobi, Bahrain and Panama city is dedicated to.

From Afghanistan to Argentina, Maldives to Mali, from Iraq to Ivory Coast, and from Peru to Pakistan, the messages resonate :

  • Firstly, That developing countries who are just eight months away from the finish line of 1st January 2010, are all set to put CFCs and Halons in the history book,
  • Secondly, That number of countries including India and China, , have shut off their production plants of CFCs and Halons much ahead of the target dates stipulated in the Montreal Protocol
  • Thirdly, That the ratification of the Montreal Protocol is now almost universal, a feat achieved by no other global agreement so far.  Only two countries, East Timor, a developing country, and Saint Marino a developed country, have yet to ratify the Protocol.

Without dedication of the governments and commitments from industries in the developing countries, persuasive backing by developed countries experts like Dr Steve Andersen and technical and policy experts from TEAP/IPCC and  without tireless work of my colleagues from UNEP, I  would not have been able standing here to convey you these messages.

Let me not spend time much time on what you already know as to how the Montreal Protocol has “bailed out” the climate change treaty, by reducing the emissions of Greenhouse gases 5 to 6 times more than the targets under the Kyoto Protocol.  In any case, many think that it was an unintended side benefit of the ODS phase-out.  What I want to reveal, however, is the real and convenient opportunities that we have ahead of us to address the inconvenient truth of anthropogenic Climate Change – undoubtedly the greatest threat that mankind has ever faced.

The accelerated phase-out of HCFCs is an historic opportunity , not only to finally close the ozone hole, but also to open up the roads and vistas to further significant reductions of GHG emissions.  The prospect of  reduction in emission of 18 to 25 Gt of CO2 equivalents over the coming decades is a very impressive feeling, but it will depend, as Durwood Zaelke Dr. Steve Andersen inform us ,  on the replacement technologies of low or zero GWP alternatives to HCFCs that we will be able to develop and deploy.

More than that, I would like to emphasize that the energy efficiency of equipment using HCFC alternatives would lead the way for amassing further significant climate benefits.  Humanity has already benefited by about 60% improvement in energy efficiency in domestic refrigerators since the industry started looking at their design in order to change from CFC-12.  We now stand to benefit similarly from improving the energy efficiency in window or room air-conditioning.  If we can just achieve 15% improvement in energy efficiency of room air-conditioning over the next 20 years in China alone, , it would mean shutting up of 100s of coal power plants with a corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions . And improving energy efficiency is not a rocket or missile science.  We have already done it for domestic refrigerators.

Let me end with what Robert Frost, an American poet said:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I

I took the one less traveled by

and that has made all the difference

Many of you in this audience have selected that different path.  Now is the time for

us to network together in order to catalyze the actions so that others will learn from

our steps on the road less traveled…and we have to walk miles ahead on this less travelled path till we reach there .

Thank you

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