The 28th meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol officially opens today in Kigali, with more than 1000 delegates expected to represent different countries and organisations at the talks for a new global agreement on climate change.
The 1978 Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer is widely regarded to be one of “the most successful environmental treaties ever” and was the first treaty to achieve universal ratification.
The global agreement has put the stratospheric ozone layer on a path to recovery through measures to control production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances.
Experts have warned that failure to amend the protocol could increase risks of skin cancer and global warming.
A breakthrough in the ongoing negotiations among the Parties to the Montreal Protocol will see a global agreement on the phasing down of consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas mainly used in refrigeration systems.
A successful amendment to the protocol would signal the international community’s commitment to practical action to achieve the goals of last year’s Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 2°C, and the more ambitious target of 1.5°C.
The Minister for Natural Resources, Dr Vincent Biruta, says that amending the protocol would also enable Africa and the rest of the world to consider green industrialisation, which would in the long run protect the ozone layer.
This, he says, would mitigate global warming and the effects of climate change in general.
The talks in Kigali are seen as an opportunity to reach a global agreement on an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydroflourocarbons, or HFCs — which are also potent greenhouse gases that greatly contribute to global climate change.
An ambitious HFC amendment would build on the positive momentum of the Paris Agreement and could avoid up to half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of this century.
The Montreal Protocol meeting, to be held at Kigali Convention Centre, will run through October 14, with preparatory sessions having started on October 8.
Experts from the Montreal Protocol party countries have been in Kigali since last week as they continued negotiations on proposals to amend the protocol to reduce climate change-inducing substances.
Among the top personalities who have confirmed participation in the Kigali meet include the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the new Director General of the Global Green Growth Institute, Dr Frank Rijsberman; US Secretary of State John Kerry, among other senior representatives of government and multilateral organisations.