办事指南

Easy way out

点击量:   时间:2019-03-07 10:06:06

By Fred Pearce SPURNING warnings that the ozone layer is still shrinking, governments meeting in Beijing threw out a series of proposals from the European Union designed to tighten curbs on ozone-eating chemicals. Industrialised nations have already stopped producing CFCs and halons and developing countries have agreed to cease manufacture by 2010. But that still leaves a string of other ozone-eaters, which EU delegates wanted to tackle. However, the meeting rejected a plan that would speed up the phasing out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These chemicals, introduced as the first replacements for CFCs in the 1980s, also damage the ozone layer. Finnish environment director Jukka Uosukainen says many people are very worried that the West is still paying for developing countries to convert equipment to run on HCFCs. But the US, the world’s largest manufacturer of HCFCs, will not support more stringent control, so the deadline for phasing out these chemicals stays at 2040. Governments also cut aid for phasing out ozone-destroying chemicals to $440 million over the next three years—6 per cent less than the past three years, and 12 per cent less than that proposed by the protocol’s technical advisers. The meeting also turned down EU proposals to staunch the ozone-eating effects of methyl bromide by capping its use in fumigating crops in warehouses in the developing world. The decisions came in a week when ozone levels over northwest Europe fell briefly to just one-third of normal and scientists warned that the greenhouse effect was accelerating ozone-eating reactions by cooling the stratosphere (New Scientist, 12 June, p 6). The healing of the ozone layer should already have started but this effect could delay it by 20 years. More on these topics: