Rwanda has launched the first African Air Quality and Climate Laboratory equipped with the “Medusa system” that will measure more than 50 gases that deplete the ozone layer.
The ozone layer is a belt of the naturally occurring gas “ozone above Earth that serves as a shield from the harmful ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.
The $2 million project is being implemented by the ministries of Education, Environment and Rwanda Meteorological Agency in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
According to Eugene Mutimura, the Minister for Education, the laboratory which will be based at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology, will have equipment be installed on top of Mugogo Mountain in Nyabihu District and at Kalisimbi volcano so as to measure Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that deplete the ozone layer.
The equipment on the mountains will observe climate change in Africa, detect the sources and the amount of the gases being emitted in regional countries and inside Rwanda.
“This climate observatory project that set up the centre of excellence in Africa with air quality and climate lab will be informing policy makers on how to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Policy makers will be able to come up with measures to control car emissions, curbing deforestation and encouraging more tree planting, reducing use of fossil fuels, developing smart green cities and transport among many others,” he said.
He added that a group of Rwandan technicians who studied atmospheric sciences from MIT are implementing the project.
Dr Jimmy Gasore, an atmospheric scientist and chief scientist of the climate observatory project said that with climate observation, the government can predict weather events for adaptation and mitigation measures.
“We are a team of technicians working on measuring if these global warming gases such as carbon dioxide and Hydrofluorocarbons are being reduced or not,” he said
Gasore added that the climate lab will also coordinate eight other air quality testing equipment across all provinces that monitor and show sources of air pollution in various parts of the country.
He noted that the data from the system will also enable Rwandan experts during different negotiations on climate agreements.
The Medusa system, which was installed at University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology, will measure more than 50 gases that deplete ozone layer. Michel Nkurunziza.
Implementation of climate agreements
Faustin Munyazikwiye, the Deputy Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority who is also a climate negotiator, said the Medusa system was timely since the world had agreed to phase out Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that deplete the ozone layer and having equipment to measure them in the atmosphere is a better intervention.
The Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol adopted in 2016 to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) entered into force after 65 countries ratified the agreement which will see global nations gradually reduce global-warming-inducing HFCs by more than 80 per cent over the next 30 years.
The implementation of the move will avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100 which is a contribution to the Paris agreement that seeks to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
“We are very glad to launch the system which measures more than 50 and more gases under the Montreal Protocol as amended in Rwanda. This system came at the right time when Kigali Amendment on Montreal Protocol came into force 1st January 2019,” said Munyazikwiye.
“We continue to come up with measures in mitigating and adapting to climate change and with the pledge of mobilizing $100 billion every year by developed countries to least developed countries, we will win the battle, he added.