Keynote address delivered by Honourable Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Sotyu during the virtual celebration of the International Day for the preservation of The Ozone Layer Awareness Event
Leaders in industry and role players
Principals, Educators and Learners;
Members of the community;
Members of the media;
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to be part of this remarkable celebration of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer here today.
The world today is going through a challenging and unprecedented time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People’s lives and economies have been affected in one way or the other.
Despite the odds we are determined to pull through this, however not as individuals but rather together as a collective.
This is why a number of organisations and businesses have become more innovative in how they carry out certain activities, such as us today holding the World Ozone Day 2020 celebrations on this virtual platform.
Today we celebrate 35 years of protecting the ozone layer. This comes after scientists decades ago discovered the hole in the ozone layer as a result of man-made chemicals.
The strength of unity was demonstrated by countries around the globe when they took action to phase-out and ultimately ban the potent ozone depleting substances for the preservation of the environment and human health.
Our Constitution as a Nation complements the ambitions of both the Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol in protecting the environment and human health.
The Montreal Protocol is widely heralded as a success story both in terms of achieving its direct aims in ozone depleting substances phase-out targets and the resultant curbs in ozone depletion, and consequent environmental and health benefits.
In our endeavours to meet the obligations of the Montreal Protocol, South Africa has developed regulations to phase-out and manage ozone depleting substances.
Measures are put in place to monitor and control the imports and exports thereof in the country such as import quotas and licensing system. In an effort of ensuring that we close the potential gaps in illegal trade, an amendment of the Regulations Regarding the Phasing-out and Management of Ozone Depleting Substances has been undertaken in consultation with yourselves.
This amendment also aims at addressing among others concerns raised by some of the stakeholders in respect to ease of identifying controlled substances, providing for import quotas and matters that pertain to refrigerant reclamation.
Our government is actively involved in activities locally and internationally that aim to protect the ozone layer and ultimately human health.
In order to prevent illegal trade we have trained customs officials, international trade administration commission and environmental inspectors in both sea port of entries and land borders respectively.
In partnership with United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) roadshows were undertaken to raise the awareness on protection of the ozone layer, and obligations of the Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol.
Our collaboration with industry and government has birthed the Chemicals Management Phakisa Initiatives aimed at impacting positively on both the environment and economy such as training of Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Technicians in the Informal Servicing Sector in the country by 2023.
Further to this development we have allocated 3 refrigerant reclamation machines to 2 companies and Capricorn Vocational Training College in Polokwane, Limpopo towards the establishment of SMMEs in the Refrigeration and Air-conditioning sector.
We are extending our reach to learning institutions in order to develop and raise a generation of environmentalists. This can be attested to the past 8 to 9 years the work done in raising this similar awareness celebrations in schools in various provinces such as Eastern Cape, Limpopo, North West and others.
We can certainly appreciate this talent and creativity from early in the programme this morning.
Today as the whole world is celebrating 35 years of protecting the ozone layer under the theme “Ozone for life” we salute all of you that attended this event.
As a Party to the Montreal Protocol we started phasing out Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) from an average baseline of 5140.20 Tonnes in 2009 and 2010.
In January 2016 refrigerant-141B used in the foam sector was banned successfully and companies in the sector transitioned to the technically and economically feasible alternatives and subsequently removed over 1000 tonnes of HCFC from the baseline.
The Foam sector was assisted by the South Africa funding from the Multilateral Fund Secretariat for the Implementation of the country HCFC Phase-out Management.
I am pleased to inform you that up to the end of December 2019 just over 50% of HCFCs baseline has been reduced as our contribution towards the protection of the ozone layer.
We are set to meet the complete phase-out of HCFCs earlier than the set target of 2040. In the meantime, the mission goes on and all of us must continue contributing.
We also have recently registered alternatives to Methybromide. The information gathered so far indicates that the trails are going well and Methylbromide use is soon to be a thing of the past in South Africa.
You all brought us to this memorable milestone. The power of collaboration and uniting towards a common cause has proven effective. It gives me pleasure to form part of this success story and the Ozone family.
I also want to highlight that South Africa participates and plays and important role in leading the Africa Group in international negotiations, and making sure that the needs of the continent in phasing out and managing ozone depleting substances are met.
This year we are the President of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment and have been privileged to Co-Chairing the Open Ended-Working Group Meeting in 2020.
We are hopeful that despite the very difficult circumstances we face the world over our contribution and leadership will help in guiding the ozone family to making important decisions.
It is my understanding that various Stakeholders met this morning as per our tradition during the year in order to forge a way forward in strengthening our efforts in managing and controlling these substances.
Today let us look forward to more decades of further strengthening our collaborations, partnerships, participation and making those positive contributions as industry, government, public and learning institutions towards the preservation of the ozone layer.
Now we have much work ahead of us in dealing with the global warming substances such as HFCs and implementing the Kigali Amendment. We look forward to your continued support as we take on this new challenge.
In closing I would like to thank the Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat, Ms Tina Birmpili who has graced us with her presence today.
I would further like to thank her for the service she rendered to the Parties to the Protocol and the support she has tirelessly rendered to South Africa among others on our Methyl Bromide Critical Use Nominations for the past 4 to 5 years.
She is leaving the Ozone Secretariat to join the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Tina, you will always be part of the Ozone family and we look forward to working with you in combating desertification.
Thank you for all that you have done for us, and the world. We wish you well and keep up the good work. I would like to extend my gratitude to all of you for the partnerships, participation and your contribution in various national activities that contribute to efforts in phasing out ozone depleting substances as led by the Department.
I Thank you all.
Source: Government of South Africa