Trinidad and Tobago rounds up greenhouse gas talks in Montreal

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s contingent in Montreal as part of the 34th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. (Right) Dr. Marissa Gowrie (Head of Dlegation), Deputy Environmental Manager and National Ozone Officer and (left) Mr. Jonathan Bolai, Ozone Specialist both of the Ministry of Planning and Development.

Planning and Development Minister Pennelope Beckles is announcing for public information that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is wrapping up participation in the Bureau Meeting of the 33rd Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol and the 34th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in Montreal, Canada from October 30 to November 4, 2022.

This is important for the government’s thrust to mitigate against natural and environmental disasters as well as major health issues for citizens. Ozone depletion has been related to skin cancer risks, eye diseases, threats to food security, environmental damage to marine and terrestrial resources, infrastructure damage and more.

Trinidad and Tobago’s contingent consists of representatives of the National Ozone Unit of the Ministry of Planning and Development in the persons of Dr. Marissa Gowrie, Deputy Environmental Manager and National Ozone Officer and Mr. Jonathan Bolai, Ozone Specialist. Dr. Gowrie is the Head of Delegation.

In August 1989, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago acceded to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer. The accession to this Protocol committed Trinidad and Tobago to protect the ozone layer through measures to control emissions that deplete it, with the ultimate objective of their elimination on the basis of developments in technology. Trinidad and Tobago operates under Article 5(1) of the Montreal Protocol. In accordance with the Protocol, we are obligated to implement a phase out Schedule for ozone depleting substances (ODS), with the complete phase out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 2030.

Thus far, Trinidad and Tobago has completed phase out of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Halons on January 1, 2008 and phase out of Methyl Bromide for non-quarantine of pre shipment uses on January 1, 2015. Trinidad and Tobago has also been recently granted approval by the Global Environmental Facility to implement a grant funded project aimed at promoting renewable energy in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector.

For Trinidad and Tobago, being a Party to the Montreal Protocol keeps us in the loop regarding pertinent issues which will influence the national implementation of initiatives that will contributing to protecting the ozone layer. In the mid-1970s, scientists realised that the ozone layer was threatened by the accumulation of gases containing halogens (chlorine and bromine) in the atmosphere. Then, in the mid-1980s, scientists discovered a “hole” in the ozone layer above Antarctica – the region of Earth’s atmosphere with severe depletion.

As part of the discussions this year, Trinidad and Tobago contributed to matters concerning the availability of alternatives to ozone depleting substances (ODS); monitoring of trade in hydrochlorofluorocarbons and substituting substances; funding for phase down programmes for hydrofluorocarbons under the Kigali Amendment; destruction of unwanted ODSs and the illegal trade in ODSs.

Minister Pennelope Beckles states that the government also takes the protection of the ozone layer seriously because it has been proven there are links between climate change and ozone depletion and Minister Beckles will be the Head of Delegation at the UN’s 27th Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt from November 7-18, 2022. The Minister also adds that Trinidad and Tobago’s foreign policy is premised on multilateralism as a member of the United Nations. Accordingly, international discussions and negotiations are a necessary part of our responsibility and involvement in efforts aimed at arriving at solutions to global problems.