Healing the ozone layer and combating climate change: Kenya’s efforts under the Montreal Protocol

  • 18 Sep 2023
  • 2 Mins Read
  • 〜 by Vidhi Patel

The ozone layer consists of a protective shield of ozone molecules in the Earth’s stratosphere. It plays a crucial role in blocking harmful solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause skin cancer, cataracts and harm ecosystems. In the mid-20th century, scientists discovered that man-made chemicals, particularly chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), were causing the depletion of the ozone layer.

Recognizing the urgency of the ozone layer’s depletion, the international community came together to address the issue. The Montreal Protocol, signed by 197 countries, aimed to phase out ozone-depleting substances (ODS) production and consumption.

The Montreal Protocol treaty, adopted in 1987, has been instrumental in healing the ozone layer and combating climate change worldwide. One country that has made significant strides in this regard is Kenya. Kenya became a party to the Montreal Protocol in 1993, demonstrating its commitment to protecting the environment.

Kenya, like other signatory countries, is bound by the provisions of the Montreal Protocol. As a developing country, the country has received assistance from the Multilateral Fund to phase-out ODS and promote the use of ozone-friendly technologies. This assistance includes capacity-building, technology transfer, and financial support.

Kenya and other countries have taken steps to phase out ODS in compliance with the protocol’s requirements including adopting alternative technologies and substances that do not harm the ozone layer. The  specific actions and progress of the country depend on its national implementation plan and commitments under the Montreal Protocol. These may evolve as the treaty is amended and updated to address emerging environmental challenges.

In 2023, Kenya launched its National Cooling Action Plan (NCAP), defining the country’s sustainable cooling ambition. This plan aligns with the country’s climate commitments of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 per cent or 143 Mt CO2 by 2030. Direct emissions from cooling equipment significantly contribute to Kenya’s emissions, estimated to be 4.1 Mt CO2 as of 2023.

This multi-sectoral five-year plan seeks to support four development aspirations: reliable cold chains to enhance food security and nutrition; refrigeration to preserve vaccines and medical supplies; affordable, modern, and efficient household cooling appliances; and reduced energy consumption through energy-efficient cooling at an industrial level. Furthermore, the plan will elevate access to sustainable cooling as a priority in the Kenya Government Climate Action Agenda while ensuring actionable implementation at the sub-national level.

The Montreal Protocol is a shining example of international cooperation addressing environmental challenges. In Kenya, it has contributed to healing the ozone layer and played a vital role in the nation’s efforts to combat climate change. Through phasing out ozone-depleting substances, promoting environmentally friendly alternatives, and embracing broader sustainability initiatives, Kenya has emerged as a leader in environmental protection and climate action on the African continent. However, ongoing commitment and collaboration remain essential as the world grapples with the challenges of a changing climate.