PM urges involvement of consumers in protecting the global environment

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister and Minister of Sustainable Development, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas addresses the Regional Network Meeting. Seated left is National Ozone Officer, St. Kitts, Ms. June Hughes and right is Marco Gonzalez, Executive Secretary, Ozone Secretariat to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol. (Photo by Erasmus Williams)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MARCH 18TH 2013 (CUOPM) – Although St. Kitts and Nevis has achieved a near 100 percent in the reduction of ozone-depleting gases, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas says the twin-island federation has an obligation to work hand in hand refrigeration and air-conditioning practitioners, impressing upon them, the importance of education and make environmental players more resilient and responsible.

Addressing a Regional Network Meeting of Ozone Officers from the English speaking Caribbean and Haiti organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Sustainable Development at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on Monday, Prime Minister Douglas noted that the “Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer Regulations,” which had the foresightto regulate HCFC importation was passed in 2004, long before the global discussion of HCFC phase-out was even started.

“Since then, we moved to accelerate our phase-out of HCFCs, and are pleased to be able to say that we have maintained zero percent consumption since 2008. We understand the importance of our refrigeration and air-conditioning sectors keeping pace with the fast-moving changes in their industry, and so we assist them in receiving both the requisite education, as well as the related equipment, in this regard. And this is a partnership to which we are committed. Our HCFC Phase-out Management Programme, then, is very much in place with our goal being to achieve a significant reduction in our importation of HCFCs by 2020. Indeed, our refrigeration and air-conditioning specialists showa distinct readiness to embrace alternative technologies in this regard, further strengthening our confidence in our ability to approach a complete phase out of HCFC’s by 2020,” Dr. Douglas told delegates .

He said it is not enough to have only the technicians on board however as the key to any success in this regard is ensuring that there is on-going public education, and so equipping consumers with the insight and information to make increasingly responsible environmental purchases has always been – and will always be – key to our efforts.

“In addition, our commitment to the protection of the environment is not limited to our efforts to slow – and indeed halt – the rate of ozone depletion. We, like all responsible Governments, understand the importance of working to advance the goals of other environmental conventions and bodies as well. And added to this are the unique resource challenges that all nations now face in this fragile economic climate, globally, and the special responsibility that this places on us all to marshal and manage – with utmost responsibility and effectiveness – the resources that we do have at our disposal. In this regard, opportunities for collaboration between our environmental partners and ourselves assume a special significance, and they represent a timely opportunity for all involved to share skills, resources, and other attributes in order to advance then environmental interests of this planet, on which we all depend,” said Dr. Douglas.

He stressed that the in St. Kitts and Nevis as elsewhere, the battle to protect the global environment must extend beyond Government offices, the Ozone Secretariat and the Multilateral Fund.

“Our efforts must become part and parcel of our respective peoples’ ways of thinking and living. And so, it is incumbent upon us to find ways to encourage those who live in our various countries to be more aware of the environmental impact of the various products they buy, and to be both vigilant and more assertive in demanding that the retailers to whom they give their hard-earned funds be responsible, in reference to the types of goods that they bring into the countries involved. And, indeed, far from the need for vigilance being limited to the sale and purchase of these various appliances, there is the matter of those persons who forward to repair the items in question,” said Dr. Douglas.

The Prime Minister called on regional governments to educate consumers as to the questions that need to be asked, the answers that should be readily available, and the means by which various operators’ qualifications can be reliably determined.

“The challenges are endless, but there are solutions to every challenge and that is why we are gathered here today. Because even after an appliance has been carefully and prudently purchased, and even after it has been maintained and repaired under the most stringent of conditions, there is then the matter of disposal. Who disposes of these appliances – hundreds of thousands of which exist right here in the Caribbean – and how is this disposal handled? This, too, must be addressed,” Dr. Douglas stressed.

He said protecting the global environment demands the best thinking of all involved and the management of illegally traded ozone depleting substances [ODS’] is a case in point.

“One that requires that there be ever stronger bonds of communication and collaboration between Customs Departments, brokers, and the refrigeration and air-conditioning associations and institutions, themselves. Collaboration between these entities is vital to the work ahead. And we, in these small states, by virtue of our size, have long understood the power and importance of collaboration. This is a tradition, and a strength, then, that we will, most certainly, use,” said the Prime Minister, adding that St. Kitts and Nevis has long understood the importance of joining the international effort to protect and preserve the planet’s ozone layer.

Delegates are attending from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and theGrenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

Representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat to The Vienna Convention and the Monteal Protocol are also attending.

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