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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS & TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
12 November 1999
RATIFICATION OF COPENHAGEN AMENDMENTS; WORLD HERITAGE CONVENTION BILL: ADOPTION
Ratification of the Copenhagen Amendments to the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (attached to end of minutes)
The committee agreed to the Ratification of the Copenhagen Amendments to the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layers. In addition, they formally accepted the World Heritage Convention Bill as amended by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
Agenda for the rest of 1999:
Before beginning their meeting the committee discussed what issues they were able to deal with before the end of the session. It was decided that the agenda had to be limited since the National Assembly would be sitting every day of the week of November 15 to November 19, 1999. Therefore, they limited their agenda to discussing desertification on November 16 and November 17, 1999.
Ratification of the Copenhagen Amendments to the Montreal Protocol
Mr F Mashamba from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism read through the Ratification of the Copenhagen Amendments to the Montreal Protocol (see Appendix 1). He added that the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs, and the Statuary Board of Agriculture were consulted on the policy issues. The Department of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs were consulted on the legal implications.
Questions and answers:
The chairperson, Ms Mahlangu (ANC) wanted to make sure that South Africa had ratified the Montreal Protocol and they were only discussing the Amendments made in Copenhagen. Mr Mashamba confirmed that this was the case. Ms Mahlangu also asked if South Africa's responsibilities changed after it was changed from a developed country to a developing country.
Ms Chalmers (ANC) asked the Department if there is a list of developed and developing countries that are full signatories.
Mr September (ANC) asked if by signing the protocol South Africa has agreed to phase out methyl bromide in 12 years. Mr Mashamba told the member that was correct.
Mr Opperman (DP) asked if South Africa would have the supply of methyl bromide cut off by the year 2000 if they failed to comply. As South Africa's classification had been changed to a developing country, they do not have to comply with the responsibilities of a developed nation. Mr Mashamba said that the procedures and requirements of classification are not clear, and that there may be a contradiction here.
Ms Olckers (NNP) asked why, even if South Africa met all of the qualifications, would they want to be classified as a developing country. She thought that they cannot afford to be cut off from methyl bromide, which many farmers depend on.
Ms Semple (DP) asked if South Africa still had to ratify the agreement regardless of their classification. The Chairperson explained that the protocol was ratified regardless. South Africa has ratified the agreement to phase out the use of methyl bromine. If South Africa does not comply then they will be cut off from the chemical.
Mr September (ANC) said that the classification changed because they did not qualify but South Africa still needs to phase out methyl bromine. He asked if methyl bromine had been phased out already, would the classification change? Mr Mashamba said that the classification would not change. He further explained that there are different obligations placed on developing and developed countries. For example, developing countries are offered time to phase out their use of methyl bromine by obtaining new technologies. South Africa was reclassified as a developing country because it relies heavily on methyl bromine and it is not capable of immediately diminishing its use. South Africa is on schedule with the strategy for phasing out ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) as determined in the Montreal Protocol.
The committee agreed to the succession of the Ratification of the Copenhagen Amendments to the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. One of the members asked if they could include a resolution as to how the committee will examine whether the provisions to the protocol are being checked. Mr September (ANC) agreed. This suggestion was recorded.
World Heritage Convention Bill
The committee formally agreed to the World Heritage Convention Bill as amended by the National Council of Provinces. It was passed with no debate.
These minutes have been supplied by Contact.
RATIFICATION OF THE COPENHAGEN AMENDMENTS TO THE
MONTREAL PROTOCOL FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE
South Africa acceded to the Montreal Protocol on 15 January 1990 and acceded to the London Amendments to the Protocol on 12 May 1992. South Africa has however not yet ratified the Copenhagen amendments to the Protocol, which entered into force on 14 June 1994.
One of the reasons why South Africa delayed its ratification of the Copenhagen Amendments was that we first wanted to be reclassified to "developing country" status under the Protocol before ratification. The South African request for reclassification was successful and we are now officially recognized as a "developing country" under the Protocol.
At the time of requesting reclassification, and in subsequent correspondence between our former Minister and the Secretariat of the Montreal Protocol, assurances were given that South Africa will ratify the Copenhagen Amendments before the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in November 1998 in Cairo.
The Copenhagen Amendments to the Protocol brought forward the phase-out date for Halons to 31 December 1993 and for carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform to 31 December 1995; established a phase -out schedule for HCFC's (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons); and regulated a new zone depleting substance, methyl bromide, for the first time by stipulating that developed countries would not be allowed to consume more methyl bromide annually from 1995 onward, than the quality of methyl bromide consumed by that country during 1991.
The phase-out of Halons, CFC's (Chlorofluorocarbons), carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform has already been achieved. The phase-out schedule of HCFC's is on track and South Africa is working on the methyl bromide phase-out issue.
Pressure is being placed upon South Africa, and other states that have not yet ratified the Copenhagen Amendments to the Protocol, to do so as soon as possible. As methyl bromide was only brought into the Protocol with the Copenhagen Amendments, Parties that have not ratified the Copenhagen Amendments are deemed to be non-parties in so far as methyl bromide is concerned. This implies that trade sanctions may be implemented with regard to methyl bromide against parties that have not yet ratified the Copenhagen Amendments by 1999.
South Africa uses about 1000 tons of methyl bromide annually, and there are a number of agricultural sectors that are a present very dependent upon the availability of methyl bromide to produce a crop.
During 1997 Interested and affected parties were contacted to ask whether they would be in agreement with South Africa ratifying the Copenhagen Amendments to the protocol, with the exception of a few who felt that we should first obtain "developing country" status, no one objected to the ratification.
South Africa has already met all the commitments of a developed country under the Copenhagen Amendments. Ratification will therefore have no new negative effects on anyone in South African industry or agriculture. Not ratifying will have negative effects as trade sanctions may be imposed on countries that have not signed the amendments, from 2000 onward, with regard to methyl bromide.
South Africa has no option but to abide by the requirements of the Montreal Protocol. It is imperative that the Copenhagen Amendments to the Protocol be ratified to enable us to participate in the gradual phasing out of methyl bromide during the next 12 years, during which time replacement products for methyl bromide that have already been developed, can be tested. Failing to do so could mean a total cut off from methyl bromide supplies by 2000 with the accompanying problems that agriculture would face, should this happen.
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