The National Advisory Committee for Ozone Layer Protection Commences After Hunga Tonga Hunga Haápai (HTHH) Disaster and Covid – 19 Restrictions

Chairman of the Ozone Layer Advisory Committee and CEO for MEIDECC, Mr. Paula Ma’u with representatives from government line ministries and non – government organizations

On the 15th of June, 2022 the MEIDECC’s Department of Climate Change hosted a meeting with the advisory committee for ozone layer protection. The objectives of the meeting is to oversee Tonga’s obligations to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer as well as ensuring that all implemented and planned activities of the National Ozone Unit (NOU) is aligned with the provisions of the Ozone Layer Protection Act 2021.

Mr. CEO in his opening remarks

The advisory meeting started with a joyful note as the CEO for MEIDECC and also Chairman of the Ozone Advisory Committee, Mr. Paula Ma’u greeted the members in excitement after a long break and self-isolations from HTHH tragic event and constraints of the Covid pandemic. He also extended his sincere gratitude to the members for their effective participation which he believes to be an unblemished symbol that the significance of safeguarding the ozone layer and keeping the compliance with the Montreal Protocol is still within the interest of the advisory members.

As a result of the advisory committee’s review of the Ozone Unit work plan and status of phasing out HCFC, some major concerns were raised. The areas of concern were:

1) Ensuring a proper storage facility for the seized refrigerants at Customs area

2) Establishing a legal way for seized refrigerants’ disposal

3) Research and report on the consumption and control measures of Methyl Bromide by Quarantine – fumigation division

4) To include the Tonga Fire Services to the inspection team when surveying storage facilities for flammable refrigerants.

The meeting concluded with presentations on the phase out schedule of the Montreal Protocol and Ozone Layer Protection Act by Mr. ‘Aloisio Fifita and Ms. Papyrus Tokai from the MEIDECC’s Department of Climate Change and Corporate Services Division. One of the presentations highlighted that the maximum allowable consumption and the actual consumption rate being directly proportional to each other is a good indicator for achieving Tonga’s phase out schedule with regards to the Montreal Protocol requirements.  “Although the consumption rates of HCFC over the years vary and do not follow a specific trend, the most important factor is not exceeding the designated maximum allowable consumption for each period of time,” said Mr. Fifita.

This meeting was conducted at the Department of Climate Change Office at Nuku’alofa and was attended by representatives from relevant line ministries as well as representatives from non – government organizations. The next ozone advisory meeting is tentatively planned for the last week of September, 2022.

Mr. ‘Aloisio Fifita from the Department of Climate Change – National Ozone Unit presenting on the Montreal Protocol phase out schedule for Tonga

Ms. Papyrus Tokai elaborating on the provisions of the Ozone Layer Protection (Amendment) Act 2021