Rwanda has joined the rest of the world to mark the International Day for the preservation of the Ozone Layer. Celebrated every September 16, the day raises awareness about the importance of the ozone layer and how people can protect it. This year, the day is being celebrated under the theme: “Montreal Protocol - Keeping us, our food and vaccines cool.” The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, according to United Nations for Environmental Protection (UNEP), is the landmark multilateral environmental agreement that regulates the production and consumption of nearly 100 man-made chemicals referred to as ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Rwanda and all countries around the world joined forces in this effort and today around 99 per cent of ODC have been phased out. “Rwanda is proud to play a part in the ongoing success of the Montreal Protocol. To implement the Kigali Amendment, Rwanda created a ground-breaking National Cooling Strategy in 2019,” said Juliet Kabera, Director General, Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA). “The strategy is ensuring the country’s air conditioning and refrigeration systems are cooling our food and vaccines without contributing to the climate crisis.” The Kigali Amendment, according to REMA, is helping to slow climate change and boost energy efficiency in the cooling sector, which contributes to food security and effective vaccine delivery. In 2020, Rwanda reduced hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), gases used in refrigeration, air-conditioning and foam applications, by 54 per cent. “Rwanda has completed the first stage of its HCFC Phase-out Management Plan. The country met the 2013 freeze deadline and the 2015 ten per cent HCFC reduction. In 2020, Rwanda consumed 1.71 tons of ODP HCFCs - approximately a 65 per cent reduction from the baseline, which exceeds the 2020 target of 35 per cent reduction in HCFC consumption,” reads part of REMA’s press release. Rwanda’s outstanding contribution to the preservation of the Ozone Layer has also earned the country the UNEP 2012 Ozone Protection Award. According to REMA, refrigeration technicians across the country have been trained on the safe use of flammable refrigerants such as hydrocarbons as well as customs officers on controlling and monitoring ODS trade, and demonstrated conversions from HCFCs to HC refrigerants. In 2021, the country received the Lifetime Commitment to Cooling Award from the Clean Cooling Collaborative. Faustin Vuningoma, the Coordinator of Rwanda Climate Change and Development Network (RCCDN) said that ozone warming gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons and halons destroy ozone in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) which can result in potential harm to human health and the environment. The harms include, he continued, increased incidence of skin cancer and cataracts, immune system damage, damage of terrestrial and aquatic plant life as well as increased formation of ground-level ozone (smog) to mention a few. He urged the public to build up strong synergy for action response to climate change in order to reduce the vulnerability of communities that are more exposed to environmental pressures and to build their resilience against these challenges. In this regard, he continued, we call upon every Rwandan citizen to participate in adaptation measures for sustainable resilience; specifically, to the Ozone layer preservation. He urged Rwandans as well as the international community to respect and implement the resolutions of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. REMA, in a press release, encouraged Rwandans and business owners to purchase Kigali Amendment friendly air conditioners, refrigerators and other cooling systems that are energy efficient and do not contain chemical products that are harmful to the environment and to people.