ZIMBABWE yesterday joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Ozone Day, with Environment minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu, 5 saying the government is committed to aligning legislation with international laws to protect the depleting ozone layer.
The ozone layer is a thin part of the earth’s atmosphere that absorbs almost all of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet light.
Speaking during the commemorations held under the theme “Ozone for life: 35 years of ozone layer protection”,
Ndhlovu said his ministry was taking all the necessary measures to comply with the Kigali Amendment which came into force on January 1, 2019 in a bid to reduce Hydro-Chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) found in refrigeration and air-conditioning.
“Depletion of this vital protective shield (ozone layer) causes eye cataracts, skin cancers and suppresses the immune system in human beings.
“It reduces crop yields, degrades synthetic materials and affects aquatic organisms. In addition, most of these ozone depleting substances are also greenhouse gases that trap outgoing radiation thereby contributing significantly to global warming and climate change.
“As for the Government of Zimbabwe, the ratification process is at the final stages and it is my hope that Parliament will approve the ratification and we will deposit the instrument of ratification with the United Nations before the end of this year.
“My ministry has already embarked on the enabling activities for the hydro-fluorocarbons phase down in the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector,” Ndhlovu said.
Ndhlovu added that more than 500 refrigeration and air-conditioning technicians have so far been trained across the country on the safe use of hydrocarbons.
He highlighted that the government had also managed to phase out chlorofluorocarbons from a baseline level of 450 metric tonnes and HCFCs consumption by 35 percent from a baseline level of 340 metric tonnes.
“My ministry is working with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to train customs officers and equip them with tools and skills to combat illegal trade in ozone depleting substances. A total of sixteen (16) refrigerant identifiers were distributed to all major ports of entry to help in the detection of mislabelled or contaminated refrigerants.
“Since January 2010, over 350 cylinders of contaminated and mislabelled refrigerants have been seized at our ports of entry,” he said.