Protecting the ozone layer

International agreements to protect the ozone layer

Two major international agreements aim to protect the ozone layer. The Vienna Convention sets out a framework for scientific and technical co-operation related to the monitoring of the ozone layer while the Montreal Protocol controls the manufacture, use and trading of ozone-depleting substances. All the countries of the world are committed to protection of the ozone layer. 

Finland is a member of the European Union. In the European Union, the provisions of the Montreal Protocol have been implemented through Regulation (EC) No 1005/2009 on substances that deplete the ozone layer. The EU regulation also includes some stricter controls than those set out in the Protocol. The European Commission issues permits and quotas related to imports of ozone-depleting substances to Finland on the basis of this Regulation.

Finland’s national legislation sets out detailed controls over the maintenance and safe disposal of equipment containing ozone-depleting substances, including requirements related to the competence of maintenance and waste disposal staff.

Finland participates actively in Nordic co-operation projects organised under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers to combat ozone depletion.

The Kigali amendment – HFCs added to the scope of the Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol concerns substances that deplete the ozone layer. In the amendment to the protocol adopted in Kigali in October 2016, parties agreed to phase down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs, which are fluorinated greenhouse gases, are used e.g. in refrigeration, air conditioning and cooling equipment, foam blowing and fire extinguishers. They have been used to replace ozone depleting substances. HFCs do not harm the ozone layer, but they are very strong greenhouse gases.

The Kigali amendment will enter into force on 1 January 2019 provided that at least 20 parties have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval by that date. If the condition is not met by that date, the amendment will become effective on the 90th day following the date of ratification by the 20th party.   

In the EU, HFCs are covered by Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gas regulation). It fulfils the requirements of the Kigali amendment and is even stricter in some requirements. More information about regulation concerning F-gases is available on the page Fluorinated greenhouse gases.

Limiting global warming requires international action. The amendment to the Montreal Protocol is an important step towards the goal of the Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

Phase-down schedule for HFCs in the Kigali amendment

  developed countries developing countries (group 1) developing countries (group 2**)
Baseline formula Average HFC consumption levels for 2011-2013 + 15% of HCFC baseline* Average HFC consumption levels for 2020-2022 + 65% of HCFC baseline Average HFC consumption levels for 2024-2026 + 65% of HCFC baseline
Freeze  - 2024: 100% 2028: 100%
Step 1 2019: 90% 2029: 90% 2032: 90%
Step 2 2024: 60% 2035: 70% 2037: 80%
Step 3 2029: 30% 2040: 50% 2042: 70%
Step 4 2034: 20%    
Plateau 2036 and onwards: 15% 2045 and onwards: 20% 2047 and onwards: 15%

*For Belarus, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, 25% HCFC component of baseline and different initial two steps. **Group 2: Bahrain, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

Ozone depleting substances and their alternatives

The manufacturing, import, placing on the market, use and export of ozone-depleting substances and products that contain them is generally prohibited in Finland. Ozone-depleting substances have never been manufactured in Finland. Ozone-depleting substances may still occur in older equipment which is still in use (manufactured before the bans), particularly in refrigerants and insulation foams. When no longer in use, ozone-depleting substances and any equipment or materials containing them are classified as hazardous waste.

Ozone depleting substances (e.g. CFC-compounds, halons and methyl bromide) can be replaced with alternative substances or methods in almost all uses. In Finland ozone depleting substances may only be used in certain analytical processes in laboratories and in fire extinguishers in certain critical applications.

Ozone depleting substances have often been replaced with fluorinated greenhouse gases (e.g. HFC’s). Fluorinated greenhouse gases do not deplete the ozone layer, but they are strong greenhouse gases and their use is regulated by EU Regulation No 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases. For most uses there are alternatives which are safe for the ozone layer and do not contribute to climate change.

The future of the ozone layer

Due to successful international cooperation the consumption of controlled ozone depleting substances has fallen by 98 % and the ozone layer is slowly showing signs of recovery. However the atmospheric life-times of ozone depleting substances are long and the recovery of the ozone layer will take decades. The largest remaining threats to the ozone layer are climate change and its effects on the ozone layer, emissions from existing banks of ozone depleting substances and the increase of N2O emissions.

Authorities

Controls over the use of ozone-depleting substances in Finland are supervised by the authorities as defined in the Environmental Protection Act, the Waste Act and the Chemicals Act.  The Finnish Environment Institute is the competent authority of the EU regulation concerning ozone depleting substances.

Published 2013-12-16 at 15:02, updated 2017-09-11 at 10:37