The Ozone Layer acts as the primary protective shield of the planet Earth by absorbing the harmful radiations such as Ultraviolet Radiation (UV Rays) emanating from the Sun. This life-protecting shield naturally occurs in the stratosphere, around 20 km to 40 km above the Earth’s surface.
With development of Industrial sector, large quantities of anthropogenic chemicals are produced and used in day-to-day activities. Chloro Flouro Carbons (CFCs), Halons, Carbon Tetra Chloride (CTC), Methyl Chloroform and Methyl Bromide are some of such chemicals that deplete the Ozone Layer. These chemicals are caused to deplete the ozone Layer and facilitate more high-energy UV rays to penetrate in to Earth surface. More UV rays in ground level cause adverse effects on physical & biological world leading to health & environmental disasters. Increase of ground level UV radiation leads to high frequency of eye cataracts, blindness, skin aging, skin cancer and suppression of human immune system. Exposure to high doses of UV radiation also damage terrestrial plant life, single cell organisms and aquatic eco systems. This also leads to change in weather patterns, temperature profile of the atmosphere, climatic changes, and Global Warming, resulting threat to the life on Earth. According to recent scientific measurements the ever-largest ozone hole was observed over the Antarctic region in 2000 with the area of 28.3 million square kilometers.
Knowing the consequences of the Ozone Layer depletion, Global Community took hand in hand and initiated the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985. As the legal instrument for the Vienna Convention, Montreal Protocol on Substances that Depletes the Ozone Layer came in to force in 1987.
Sri Lanka ratified both Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol on 15th December 1989. These two treaties are considered as the most successful environment agreements. Up to now 185 countries have ratified the Vienna Convention & 184 countries have become party to the Montreal Protocol.
We found that although Sri Lanka is not producing Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) within the country, consuming a significant amounts of them mainly in Air conditioning, Refrigerator service sector, Agricultural sector and quarantine sector. Sri Lanka has taken several important measures in implementing the Montreal Protocol, which we ratified on the 15th December 1989.
Ministry of Environment acts as the focal point for environmental treaties and National Ozone Unit (NOU) was established under the same ministry in 1994, to implement the Montreal Protocol and related activities. During the last decade of the existence of the Montreal Protocol in Sri Lanka the following important milestones will be reached in year 2004.
Montreal Protocol will be completing 17 years on 16th September – (International Ozone Day).
- Sri Lanka will complete 15 years as a party to the Montreal Protocol on 15th December.
- National Ozone Unit completes 10 years in July
In view of the above Government of Sri Lanka had decided to declare the year 2004 as the National Ozone Year.
It was expected to celebrate the National Ozone Year in 2004 by implementing following activities and already achieved them.
- Establishment of an “Ozone Information Centre” & a "Refrigerant Management Centre" in “Parisarapiyasa”, Battaramulla.
- Awareness Creation Campaign for all targets groups. i.e. School children, School Teachers, Policy makers, NGOs, Industrialists, General public etc.
- Special briefing session for Parliamentarians in order to aware them on environment, economic & policy matters on implementation of Montreal Protocol in Sri Lanka
- Special awareness campaign at Nallathanni, Sri Pada, Kataragama, Madu Church, and Kandy during festive seasons.
- Organizing all Island Quiz programme and Poster competition.
- Organizing the International Ozone Day Calibrations as a special event – September 16th 2004.
- Training Customs Officers and appointment of a Task Force to develop important regulations and prevent unauthorized imports of ODS.
- Training Refrigeration & AC technicians on “Good Practices in Refrigeration”, covering the entire island and providing necessary equipments and developing a plan for accreditation.
- Development of safety standards for all types of refrigerants including hydrocarbons.
- Development of a Database for Management of ODS in Sri Lanka.
- Taking action to actively implementing already approved End user incentive program and Methyl Bromide Phase-out project.