Accra, Oct 6, GNA - Officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Customs Division, have been schooled on how to monitor and control ozone depleting substances (ODS) to enable them detect and protect the country from the invasion of substances that have been banned globally.
Notably among the banned ODS are Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which by their use, emit gaseous substances that are transmitted to the ozone layer and further deplete it.
However, under the Montreal Protocol, countries, including Ghana are to work to ensure that the ozone layer is protected from the ultra-violence radiation from the sun.
CFC is an organic compound that contains carbon, chlorine, and fluorine, produced as a volatile derivative of methane and ethane. A common subclass is the HCFCs, which contain hydrogen, as well.
The Montreal Protocol, signed by 197 countries, was designed to reduce production and consumption of ozone depleting substances to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere, and thereby protect the earth’s fragile ozone layer.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with support from the Montreal Protocol and the UNDP, subsequently organized the sensitization workshop on the monitoring and control of ODSs for Customs Officers drawn from the main entry points to the country, including Tema, Kotoka International Airport and Accra sectors.
The workshop, also culminated in the handing over of six refrigerant identifiers, each costing $5,000 from the EPA and its partners to the Customs to help the officers to improve their role in monitoring ODSs as well as other fluorinated chemicals imported into the country.
That would also help Ghana to sustain its compliance with the consumption of controlled chemical substances under the Montreal Protocol.
The officers were also provided with hands-on training to help them be conversant with the use of the refrigerant identifiers to improve their ODSs qualitative monitoring and control capability.
Mr Emmanuel Osae Quansah, Head of Energy Resources, Climate Change and Ozone, EPA, said most of the ozone depleting chemicals have global warming potential and so as they were released, they spread the ozone layer and also acts as greenhouse gases to impacts more on climate change.
“The ozone layer absorbs most of the harmful ultra-violence (UV) radiation coming from the sun and by so doing, there is an absorption process and it shields plant and animal life”.
Mr Osae Quansah said all 197 countries who have signed unto the Montreal Protocol were therefore, working to ensure that the ozone layer was saved, saying, “the Montreal Protocol is the intervention to help save the Ozone layer”.
He said there were structures in the Protocol that also oversees consumption and production of countries and that every year; each country was mandated to report its consumption of identified ozone depletion chemicals to a secretariat which monitored.
He said developed countries were also obligated under the Protocol to contribute to a common multilateral fund and developing countries which were not well endowed with resource were given funds to implement activities at their country level to meet their obligation under the Protocol by phasing out most of the chemical substances.
“We are implementing various measures to ensure that we reduce our dependency on HCFC base systems to run on alternatives. Ghana has already met it freeze level and also reduced it consumption of HCFCs by 10 per cent in 2015.
“And we are in the process of reducing by 35 per cent by 2020 and gradually we will get to phase it out. So Ghana is doing all it can just as other developing country parties to phase out the HCFCs in the world,” he explained.
Mr Peter Abum Sarkodie, Executive Director of EPA, said under the provision of the Protocol, the country had an obligation to control the consumption of all ODS at the national level and to achieve that, the monitoring and control role of Customs was key.
He said the Agency had over the years been collaborating with the Customs to ensure that Ghana, met her annual ODS consumption obligations.
“In our quest to step up this collaborative activity, series of similar tailor-made sensitization workshops have been organized at selected Customs entry points to enhance the ability of Customs officers to identify and isolate adulterated and mislabeled chemicals that enter the country through various border posts,” he said.
He said the refrigerants being presented to the Customs officials were procured under Ghana’s HPMP project for distribution and use at selected active Customs border posts to enable the officers isolate bad refrigerants from good ones.
The Montreal protocol was set up to phase out the substances without damaging the economies or the industrial structure of countries and the HCFCs were used as transitional substances from phasing out the CFCs to the non-ODS substances.
It was hoped that by 2040 all the developing countries would have acquired technologies that would be able to phase out all CFCs.
Mr Mulugeta Abebe, UNDP Deputy Country Director,, said Ghana ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1989, it had continued to be a model implementer, and a country that other African countries learnt from in terms of implementation and innovative programmes.
He commended the EPA for the leadership provided so far and the hard work of the National Ozone Unit to ensure that Ghana, together with its partners, work to protect the ozone layer.