Protecting the Ozone Layer - Malaysia Implementing the Montreal Protocol
The energy-intensive lifestyle of those living in developed countries is now being adopted among rapidly developing Asian countries. Industrialization and modernization are spreading everywhere, at differing paces and with different consequences. Alongside increased GDP, reduced poverty, and rising inequality, there is increasing fossil fuel use, natural resource depletion, and loss of biodiversity. This means increasing emissions from automobiles and factories, resulting in global warming and climate change.
Given the increased scale of global economic activity, international trade is a major driver of environmental change. Advancing economic growth and modernization require intensifying the use of finite natural resources and substances harmful to the environment leading to ecological disequilibrium. Although the ozone is a very small part of our atmosphere, its presence is vital to human well-being.
It provides a protective shield that absorbs some of the potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun that can cause skin cancer and damage vegetation. In the 1970s, scientists discovered significant levels of ozone depletion in the stratosphere, producing a phenomenon commonly known as the ‘Ozone Hole’. By the 1990s, the total ozone was less than half its value during the 1970s and this depletion has continued until today.
In response to the threat to the ozone, in 1987 the governments of the world agreed to the United Nations Montreal Protocol as a means to address global environmental challenges. Malaysia’s involvement with the Montreal Protocol began as early as 1987 when the country was invited to attend the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Protocol on Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) at the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was held in Montreal. Malaysia, recognizing the importance of the Conference, particularly with regard to its socio-economic implications, responded with an outline of its future environmental strategies and action plans, and subsequently ratified the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol on 29 August 1989.
Malaysia’s commitment to the Protocol was further demonstrated when the Public Services Department set up an Ozone Protection Section (OPS) under the Department of Environment in January 1997. The OPS serves as the national focal point and one-stop agency for coordinating, monitoring, and implementing all of the Montreal Protocol Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS) phase-out activities. Since ratification, the Government has formulated policies and strategies to restrict and limit the use of ODS, and it closely monitors the importation and consumption of controlled substances. It also promotes the use of non-ODS substitutes and alternatives in existing industries.
Malaysia’s success in implementing the Montreal Protocol can be seen both in declining imports and consumption of CFCs, from 3,442 metric tonnes in 1995 to 662 metric tonnes in 2005, and in the institutional framework, particularly the establishment of the Ozone Protection Section. Globally, the Montreal Protocol is seen as one of the most successful International Conventions and Malaysia has made substantial progress in implementing the Protocol.
This publication is the third in a series that reports on UNDP Malaysia’s work in the energy and environment practice area.