HL Deb 23 November 1988 vol 502 c100WA
Earl Peel

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What further action they intend to take internationally to protect the ozone layer.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (The Earl of Caithness)

We propose to call a major international conference on the protection of the ozone layer early next year. It will be in London in March. The Prime Minister will participate. It will be held in association with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), under whose auspices the Montreal Protocol was successfully developed.

We shall he inviting Ministers from developed and developing countries, world industry and international organisations. We want the conference to demonstrate that industry has already developed, or soon will, new products and processes that will enable all countries quickly to reduce the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and move to a CFC-free world.

It is already known that we are calling for worldwide emissions of CFCs to be reduced by at least 85 per cent., and as soon as possible. We were convinced of this urgent need by the latest scientific evidence. At the Environment Council this week we will be urging our European colleagues to make these reductions by the turn of the century and to agree that the Montreal Protocol must be strengthened to this effect. This further action is essential not only to protect the ozone layer but also because CFCs are powerful greenhouse gases which contribute to the risk of global warming and consequent climate change. The Montreal Protocol will come into force on New Year's Day. Our conference in March will give a political boost to the important first meeting of the parties in Finland the following month, which will begin the formal process of reviewing the protocol. I have told the Executive Director of UNEP that the United Kingdom would like to host the second meeting of the parties when we hope that the reductions which we are demanding will be agreed. This will be in April 1990.

It is not enough for the United Kingdom or even the European Community to take action on its own. A clear commitment is needed from all world governments, including those who have not yet signed the protocol, if we are to have any chance of preventing further damage to the ozone layer. It is not enough to set objectives. Our London conference must show how they will be achieved in practice.