GOVERNMENT is optimistic that countries around the world will use the ongoing meeting in Kigali, Rwanda to amend the Montreal Protocol Protocol and phase out all gases deemed to have a negative impact on the ozone layer.
The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty aimed at protecting the ozone layer – a thin blanket-like invisible shield protecting earth’s inhabitants from harmful ultraviolent rays of the sun.
The meeting started yesterday and ends next week on October 15.
Lesotho’s representative Mathatela Ntsatsi said the protocol had initially focused on phasing out the ozone depleting substances (ODS) – dangerous gases destroying the ozone layer.
He said that with time they realised the proposed ozone friendly gases contributed to the global warming thus causing more problems especially for least developed countries in Africa like Lesotho.
“Parties to the Montreal Protocol realised that although we are using the alternative gases to the ozone which do not have a negative impact on the ozone layer, those same gases have a negative impact, contributing to global warming as most of the ozone-friendly substances are greenhouse gases (GHGs),” Mr Ntsatsi said.
Mr Ntsatsi said as a result, African countries had agreed to present a united front in demanding that all proposed alternative gases must not include GHGs which caused global warming.
“We want all the parties to agree to phase out GHGs since it was this protocol that initially agreed to these gases which are not friendly to the climate and environment,” he said.
Mr Ntsatsi said Lesotho’s proposal for the inclusion of technical support in the Montreal Protocol amendments was incorporated into the AU negotiating document.
He said this would help in creating well developed preparedness and responsive strategies to minimise the impacts of ozone depletion on the earth.
“We are also hopeful that we will reach the desired agreement because Rwanda has already sent a lot of invitations to AU countries asking them to support the amendments,” he said.
He however said the major challenge would that of finding a middle ground between the Gulf States and other countries.
“Lesotho already has alternative gases that we can use but they cannot use the same gases we are using for air conditioning systems and refrigeration because it is too hot there,” he said, adding that using these gases there could result in fire outbreaks.
He said once decisions had been made, heads of state or senior government officials would be involved to ensure that each country is signatory to the amended Protocol.