Three decades of Stratospheric Odyssey

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Speech by Rajendra Shende, Chairman TERRE Policy Centre at Workshop in side event in Bangkok

My long journey in United Nations has more than proved that global environmental negotiations pose complex diplomatic challenges and formidable legal conundrums. The root cause of such unprecedented intricacies arise due to the stakes that each country zealously guards for its people at national, subnational and local level. The problems become further arduous because the stakeholders are governments but also industry, civil society and academia. And this is rightly so.

The world faced such situation while negotiating the elimination of production and phase out of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). This was successfully handled, though it took nearly a decade for any kind of global action after scientists first signaled the problem of planetary proportion. 1985 was the year when the governments declared their concrete intention to eliminate man made ODS. The Montreal Protocol followed that in 1987, on the substances that deplete the ozone layer with neatly laid out the timetable, common but differentiated responsibilities and financial assistance including technology -transfer for the benefit of developing countries. It was the most successful international treaty ever, by any standard.

We all learned the lesson: ‘Success is not a destination. It is a journey’. Once we successfully reach the desired destination, we are destined for the next destination. The expedition continues. More successful the Protocol is, longer is its journey. So, here we are marching towards the next destination: phasing down of the deadly Green House Gases (GHGs) i.e. Hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HFCs), having successfully crossed the destination of ODS phase out.

This path-breaking side event could not have come at more appropriate moment.

First, it is being held on the Earth Day, 22 nd April. Second, it is being held immediately after one of the most strident opponent, India, to the phasedown plans of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, has itself submitted the proposal for the amendment of the Montreal Protocol to include HFC phase down. India till now had vehemently argued that the march towards HFC phase-down belongs to another international forum, utterly unsuccessful so far, i.e. Kyoto Protocol. But now proposes phase down under the Montreal Protocol.

I am pleased that TERRE Policy Centre and Institute of Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD), is organizing today a path-breaking workshop. The objective is to provide the structured way to design, negotiate and implement the amendment for HFC Phase Down Amendment I am pleased to join Durwood Zaelke, President of IGSD, USA in hosting this event.

This event is distinct mainly because of the active participation by Dr. Steve Andersen of OGSD, Marco Gonzales, and former Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat, UNEP and Suely Carvalho, former head of Ozone Programme of UNDP.

This side event will highlight the basic tenets of the international environmental negotiations and provide a framework on how the Montreal Protocol Amendment can be crafted to ‘Start & Strengthen’ HFC phasedown for the safe guarding the ozone layer and climate system. The presentations will focus on how to access and finance next-generation technology, and how to ensure necessary flexibility for continuing essential uses and service of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, particularly for developing countries with high ambient temperature Experts will make a brief presentation on how the HFC Amendment can be designed for effective and inclusive implementation and taking into account common but differentiated responsibility. Questions and answers will follow. END

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