ON THE RIGHT PATH. United Nations Environment Programme Regional Coordinator on Montreal Protocol Shaofeng Hu discusses the percentage baselines achieved by 11 Southeast Asian nations on the global effort to phase out ozone-depleting substance in each country, during a workshop with National Ozone Officers in Bai Hotel, Mandaue City, Cebu on Tuesday (July 30, 2019). Shaofeng said the Philippines, along with other ASEAN countries, are on the right track in its commitment to reduce importation and consumption of ODS, under the Montreal Protocol. (PNA photo by John Rey Saavedra) 

CEBU CITY -- A high-ranking official of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Tuesday said the Philippines is on the right track in implementing global phaseout of ozone-depleting substance (ODS) utilization.

Shaofeng Hu, UN Environment’s regional coordinator on Montreal Protocol, said the Philippines is “already ahead of schedule for the 35 percent reduction target” against importation and consumption of ozone-depleting potentials (ODP), especially refrigerants of cooling systems.

“The Philippines did quite a good job. They are now on the right track for the assessment to ratify the Kigali amendment and the good system and policy implemented to lessen the impact to our ozone layer,” Shaofeng told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview on the sideline of the Thematic Workshop of the South East Asia Network of National Ozone Officers on Compliance with the Montreal Protocol Post Kigali in Bai Hotel in Mandaue City, Cebu.

Shaofeng said the Philippines has enough laws in compliance with its obligation to phase out ODS. Under the Montreal Protocol signed in August of 1987 by 20 countries are halon, methyl chloroform, carbon tetrachloride (CTC), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

“In general, Southeast Asian countries are on the right track complying with the 35 percent phase-out reduction target,” he said.

In his presentation, eight of the 11 countries have surpassed the percentage reduction, in consonance with the Kigali amendment on the Montreal agreement. The Kigali Amendment aims for the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by cutting their production and consumption and it was enforced starting last January 1.

The data Shaofeng presented before the 25 national ozone officers showed the Philippines placed fifth from among the ASEAN countries that comply with the ODS consumption limit set forth in the agreement, with 51 percent of baseline consumption recorded in 2018.

Vietnam was at the top of the list, with 89 percent of baseline was recorded, followed by Myanmar with 78 percent. Singapore was at the top of the list with low baseline consumption, followed by Cambodia with 33 percent.

Engr. Metodio Turbella, director for Environmental Management Bureau and national coordinator of ODS Phase-out Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said in the opening message read by Joe Amil Salino, program manager of Philippine Ozone Desk, that the national government “is continuously fulfilling its commitment to the Montreal Protocol.”

“We have successfully complied with our obligations to phase out ozone-depleting substance… since 1999,” Turbella said.

Turbella said the national government is now concentrating on the phase-out of HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbons).

He said the HCFC-141B phase-out in the foam manufacturing sector was completed in January of 2015.

“The Philippines enforced the ban on the importation and consumption of HCFCs particularly HCFC-141B,” Turbella said, adding the “Philippine commitment to reduce 161.97 ODP tons baseline consumption by 10 percent was achieved on 01 January 2015.”

“The Philippines’ firm commitment to phase out 161.97 ODP tons of HCFCs was further demonstrated through the issuance of the policy, DENR Administrative Order 2013-25 otherwise known as the Revised Chemical Control Order for ODS Phase-out,” Trubella added.

Through this AO, the national government has been able to achieve its commitments to the Montreal Protocol, such as freezing the importation of ODS from the baseline level in 2013 and reduced the importation by 10 percent from the baseline level in 2015.

The DENR, through the EMB, has been active in its awareness campaign to the stakeholders that “enabled the introduction of ozone-friendly alternative technologies in the market.”

The Philippines has developed and integrated the online permitting and monitoring system for ODS and its alternatives, Trubella said. Through this new system, applications and processing of permits are expedited along with the monitoring and tracking of the HCFC quota system imposed to registered importers to ensure compliance to reduction targets.

Shaofeng said among the challenges many ASEAN countries are facing in complying with the agreement is the prolonged process in the selection of alternative technologies of HCFC to balance long-term and short-term interests as well as safety concerns on such alternatives. (PNA)