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Sep 16, 2014

International Day of Ozone Celebrated in Belize

International Day of Ozone is celebrated annually on September sixteen and this year it is being held under the theme, “Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes On.” It’s not one of the interesting celebrations, but it is an important one. In fact, the United Nations recognized today that progress had been made in reducing damage to the ozone layer. Still, the activities today brought awareness to the harmful gases that deplete the ozone and add to global warming and in the longer run, climate change. The Department of Environment in Belize, through its National Ozone Unit, works specifically with various technicians, importers and customs to ensure that the country meets its ozone onshore protocol and the commitments under the Montreal Protocol. Since 2000, the unit has been working with these stakeholders to ensure that practices are ozone friendly.

 

Aldo Cansino, Environmental Officer, Department of Environment

Aldo Cansino

“Today what we did, we invited various stakeholders. We had representatives from the ITVETs—they have a program in refrigerants, refrigeration and AC technicians—technicians, importers where everybody could be here, look at the various equipments that are available, learn about the program and it was actually a medium for them to interact so having the various instructors, students, technicians and the importers just meeting each other, sharing experiences and learning a little bit more about ozone.  We have a permitting system. So for example a particular gas, the HCFCs, there are registered importers. Every year we have a quota system because we have to meet our international commitments in reducing imports. In 2030, we should have a zero importation of HCFCs and there will be replacement gases and things like that. So every year, we have to meet certain targets, there is a reduction. Actually in 2013, we started this with HCFCs. In 2010, we successfully met our target with CFCs importation; we stopped importing CFCs. It is a prohibited refrigerant now. So when the whole thing about ozone started it was CFCs and there was this gas that was designed to replace it and this gas was ozone friendly. What ended up happening though is that the gas, while it was ozone friendly, it had environmental impacts to climate change. So we are trying to strike that balance now and we are here again. And so what we are promoting here is natural refrigerant, which is Hydrocarbons, ammonia, natural refrigerants so that in the future we don’t have to phase out. Customs is a very strategic partner for us because when you are looking at importation Customs is the agency that ensures what comes into the country; they are our frontline. And they would always alert us that—through the accessing code, through the permitting system—that there is a container or there is something at the border that we need to look at. So we have to acknowledge their partnership in the work that we do.”

 

Awards and equipment were issued today to the Customs Department for their work in implementing the Montreal Protocol. 

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