The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Government of Qatar are blazing the trail towards paper-free or near paperless conferences.
Delegates attending a global gathering under way in Doha, the Arabian Peninsula nation’s capital, on the ozone layer are being issued with laptops in a bid to minimize the use of paper for documents, reports and other publications.
UNEP and Qatar’s new paper-free bid is expected to curb the emission of harmful greenhouse gases.
“Tens of millions of tons of CO2, the principle greenhouse gas, are released as a result of the manufacture, printing and shipping of paper in the form of documents, publications and books,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP’s Executive Director. “The UN and its numerous meetings are no exception.”
Special software allows participants from 150 nations to share and amend papers during the 16-20 November meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol and the Vienna Convention, both of which seek to protect the ozone layer.
The Montreal Protocol, which opened for signature on 16 September 1987, is an annex to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which entered into force that same year. Since the adoption of the two pacts, the international ozone regime has expanded to address almost 100 ozone-depleting chemicals for refrigeration, electronics, foam-making and other industries.
The pilot paperless programme will take its next big step forward next February at a meeting of the world’s environment ministers at UNEP’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
Participants at the current Qatar meeting are expected to discuss the cost – anywhere between more than $300 million to over $600 million – over the coming years of accelerating the freeze and phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are widely used in refrigeration systems and air conditioners and also propel global warming.
At the opening of the meeting yesterday, UNEP unveiled a new web portal that honours the visionaries, innovators and implementers behind the success of the Montreal Protocol, with efforts to bring it to reality having started in the 1970.
The pact “gives us hope and inspiration about what can be achieved collectively to protect the global environment,” Mr. Steiner said. “Developing and developed countries have worked side by side for the common good to set, meet and sustain precise, time-based compliance targets for eliminating an entire class of harmful chemicals, thereby helping to restore Earth’s precious ozone shield.”
The “Montreal Protocol’s Who’s Who” site is a collection of biographies of those who have worked to achieve the goals of the pact, and the site also allows people to nominate ozone protection champions to be added to the list.