Rajendra Shende, Chief
Energy and OzonAction Unit
United Nations Environment Programme,
Division Of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP DTIE)
Lhasa 4th August 1999
Honourable Officials from Tibet Autonomous Region,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am extremely pleased to be here with you to meet my colleagues from the Roof of the World. On behalf of Executive Director of UNEP , Dr. K. Topfer, and my colleagues in the Paris office and from UNDP,UNIDO and Government Of Sweden, I would like to heartily thank the Tibet Autonomous Region, Government of China for inviting us here to discuss the environmental degradation in general and adverse effects of the Ozone Layer Depletion on Tibetan life in particular.
Tibet is land of purity. That purity flows from its blue skies, towering and untouched mountains. It flows from its glaciers and lakes that are the origins of the great rivers in the world. People of Tibet have lived for centuries in harmony with the nature. Nature is their mother and their deities.
That purity today is threatened due to man-made activities. Man-made gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) travel upto 25-40 kms above the earth and destroy the Ozone Layer which is so useful to the life on the earth. The Ozone Layer acts as a shield for the earth and protects life on the earth from the Ultra-Violet rays coming from the Sun. Without Ozone Layer life on the earth will not exist.
Man –made gases have already damaged the Ozone Layer for more than two decades and they continue to do so. Life on the earth is threatened. There has been risk of steep rise in skin cancers and cataracts and effects on the agricultural production among others.
What do we do? World community has already initiated the actions. UNEP, based on the scientific assessment and observations carried out by World Meteorological Organisation ( WMO) brought the nations in the world to gether and facilitated the formulation of the international agreement to protect the Ozone Layer.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer stipulates those actions for all the countries in the world. Till now 168 countries in the world including China, have ratified the Montreal Protocol. The developed countries have stopped producing the CFCs except for essential uses. More than 1 million tons of CFCs have been eliminated by developed countries.
Contribution of the developing countries to the depletion of the Ozone Layer has been minimal. The developed countries have agreed to provide technical and financial assistance to the developing countries to elimeinate the use of Ozone Depleting Substances ( ODS) like CFCs. Nearly US$ 1 billion has been provided to the developing countries for the activites like creating awareness, building the capacity and the skills for use of ozone friendly alternatives, preparing the actionplans to eliminate ODS and conversion of factories producing and consuming ODS. Four implementing agencies ie. UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO and World Bank are assisting developing countries who are Parties to the Protocol.
Today China is largest producer and consumer of ODS in the world. It
has received nearly 50 percent of the financial assistance under the Multilateral Fund. It has shown leadership by early action and has become the first developing country to start phase out of the production of CFCs.It is commendable job.
UNEP has undertaken number of responsibilities in this field. It is guardian of the Montreal Protocol and it has the Secretariat at Nairobi. It is Treasurer of the Multilateral Fund established to assist developing countries. As an implementing agency it helps in creating awareness, providing the information on alternative technologies, training and facilitates the dialogue with other countries through networks. UNEP is assisting China through such services and specifically to formulate startegies and policies. Last week I was in Beijing to assist SEPA to formulate the strategy to phase out Methyl Bromide-another ODS.
It is unfortunate that Tibet that has not contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer should be suffering from its effects. There have been disturbing news about the effects of the incidences of the Ultra-Violet rays and geothermal patterns. These need to be investgated in details. UNEP will discuss the issue with SEPA and TAR authorities to draw action plan. There is urgency to preserve the purity of nature in Tibet. Tibetan people are religeous and their religion is based on nature and on the principle of “ not killing the life”. In fact it is the religion that aims to protect the environment and UNEP will do all it can to assist Tibetan people in this regard.
There is good news amidst the various concerns. Jinzhu Group based in Tibet has developed alternative technology to protect the Ozone Layer. This has been tremendous job. They, through their own efforts, hve set up HFC 134-A plant to produce alternative to CFCs. This has been gift from nature loving Tibet to whole of China and I would like to congratulate Jinzhu Group and its President Mr. Dong for his leadership role.
Thank you again