Issue Date: April 5, 2004
High Demand For Crop Fumigant Shows Need For Ozone-Friendly Replacements
On March 26, at a United Nations meeting in Montreal, 114 countries agreed to grant 11 developed countries permission to continue employing the pesticide methyl bromide for so-called critical uses.
Under the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, developed countries were to phase out all uses of methyl bromide by 2005 because the compound damages the planet’s stratospheric ozone. But now, farmers and fumigators will have additional time to develop substitutes.
Under the new agreement, the U.S. will be allowed to use 8,942 metric tons of methyl bromide in 2005, or 35% of its 1991 baseline level. Italy will be allowed 2,133 metric tons; Spain, 1,059; and France, 407. Australia, Belgium, Canada, Greece, Japan, Portugal, and the U.K. were each granted exemptions of less than 300 metric tons.
"The high demand for exemptions to the methyl bromide phaseout shows that governments and the private sector will have to work much harder to speed up the development of ozone-friendly replacements," said Klaus Töpfer, executive director of the UN Environment Program.
Last November, at the previous meeting of parties to the protocol, the U.S. sought exemptions that would have set its consumption at 39% of its 1991 level. This deadlocked the meeting and threatened the integrity of the protocol. So a special session of the parties was arranged for March to resolve the dispute.
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