Rwanda has drastically reduced, by 54%, the importation of gases known as ‘hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)’ that deplete ozone layer paving the way for implementing the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
The ozone layer is a belt of naturally occurring ozone gas that serves as a shield from the harmful ultraviolet B radiation emitted by the sun. The gases, which deplete the ozone layer, are used in air conditioners and refrigerators.
The 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol which entered into force in 2019 is an international treaty-designed to phase out such powerful climate-warming gases by more than 80 per cent in the next 30 years. Once phased out, the gases could reduce 0.5 degree celsius of global warming.
The gases which deplete the ozone layer are used in air conditioners and refrigerators.Photo: Sam Ngendahimana.
Martine Uwera, the National Focal Point of Montreal Protocol, told The New Times that Rwanda has reduced the importation of chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) from 4.1 tonnes in 2010 to 1.89 tonnes currently.
“We have reduced ozone depleting substances by 54 per cent and there is still a gap of 2.21 tonnes which we seek to phase out by 2030,” she said.
If not phased out, the substances could pose different effects risks which include food shortage as the radiations disturb developmental and physiological processes that decrease the productivity of crops as well as loss of wildlife since ozone depletion lead to a loss of plant species and reduce global food supply.
The effects of ozone layer depletion on human beings include skin cancer, risk of cataract, weakened human immune systems, DNA damage and lung diseases as ultraviolet radiations disturb biomolecules such as lipids, proteins and nucleic acids.
Uwera said that traders are recommended with a quantity of ozone depleting gases to import every year so that phase-out targets are met.
“Currently new appliances such as fridges that use ozone depleting substances are not allowed to be imported. Those caught are arrested and are ordered to return such equipment to their country of origin or take them for recycling. We are only coping with imported gases that are not environmentally friendly,” she said adding there are mechanisms to control illicit trade in ozone depleting substances.
An inventory that was carried out by Rwanda Environment Management Authority indicates that there are over 200,000 equipment such as fridges and air conditioners among big users of such climate warming gases.
However, she said they seek to carry out an inventory to know a number of such equipment used in households and collect them. “These are targeted to embrace new technologies that are environmentally friendly or to be taken for recycling,” she explained.
Beatrice Uwumukiza, the Director General of Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA), said that in order to control the illegal trade of counterfeit refrigerants, there is collaboration with REMA to train Customs staff on how to identify genuine refrigerants from counterfeit ones.
Alphonse Dushimimana, the Managing Director of Alpha Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Engineering Ltd, said they have been trained on new technologies to use environmentally friendly gases.
National cooling strategy
Patrick Karera, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment said that Rwanda has also adopted a National Cooling Strategy, which is one of the results of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to help phase out the gases.
Rwanda needs at least Rwf20 billion to encourage uptake of energy efficiency and climate friendly cooling solutions in the country as part of its obligation under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
“It is admirable that the Kigali Amendment has exceeded 100 ratifications. Without decisive and global action, emissions from the cooling sector are set to grow 90 per cent by 2050,” he said.
He said that the National Cooling Strategy approved by the cabinet in 2019 will help to roll out standards for cooling technologies.
“We are working with Rwanda Green Fund, Rwanda Business Development Fund, and UN Environment’ united for Efficiency initiative and Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy to ensure the success of financial mechanisms for climate-friendly cooling solutions,” he added.
This, he said, will enable suppliers and consumers of air conditioning.