In 1989, the international community concluded the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (hereinafter referred to as the Montreal Protocol) to jointly carry out global actions to protect the ozone layer and gradually phase out ozone-depleting substances (hereinafter referred to as ODS). Thanks to the joint efforts of all parties and the international community, more than 99% of ODS specified in the Montreal Protocol have been successfully phased out, with significant environmental and health benefits achieved. The Montreal Protocol has, therefore, become a model for the international community to work together to deal with global environmental issues and build a community of shared future for mankind.
In 1991, the Government of China acceded to the Montreal Protocol and successively ratified all the amendments under its framework. Over the past 30 years, China has earnestly fulfilled all international obligations stipulated in the Montreal Protocol, honored its compliance commitments, and successively achieved the complete phase-out of the controlled uses of five categories of ODS, including chlorofluorocarbon, halon, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform and methyl bromide. At present, China is phasing out the last category of ODS, HCFCs. Through 30 years of unremitting efforts, China has phased out about 504,000 metric tons of ODS, which has brought great benefits to the mitigation of climate change while protecting the ozone layer. According to a research report, in the past 30 years, China has avoided about 23 billion tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions in the process of phasing out ODS, which is equivalent to more than twice the total carbon emissions of China in 2021, achieving remarkable results in emission reduction. Looking back on the extraordinary course of implementing the Montreal Protocol in the past 30 years, China has explored a road to implement the protocol in line with national reality, contributed China’s wisdom and solutions to the global implementation of the protocol, and gathered valuable experience for international environmental cooperation.
Ⅰ. Uphold Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization, and participate in global environmental governance
The implementation of international conventions is a global environmental governance action under the principle of multilateralism after the international community reached consensus. As a major developing country, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee, China adheres to Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization, upholds the principle of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and pursues a global governance approach featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. China has taken a holistic approach to implementing the protocol while facilitating industrial restructuring, pollution prevention and control, and climate change mitigation, so as to ensure the realization of targets in the protocol as the bottom line. China has also carried out treatment of pollution sources in a systematic and holistic manner, and promoted international environmental governance on the basis of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.
Ⅱ. Establish a compliance management system and mechanism, and strengthen the institution building for implementing the protocol
Over the past 30 years, China has given full play to the obvious advantages of the governance system, and set up specialized agencies for protocol compliance including the National Leading Group of Ozone Layer Protection, the National Import and Export Management Office of Ozone Depleting Substances, and the Coordination Group for the Protocol Implementation at the national, inter-ministerial and intra-ministerial levels, respectively. Through implementing and improving the compliance institution building, the top-level design of protocol compliance has been strengthened, and the supervision and implementation of the protocol have been ensured. With these efforts, a sound situation of national-level leadership, inter-ministerial cooperation, implementation of professional institutions and active participation of local ecological and environmental bureaus (EEBs) and sectors has been formed. Meanwhile, all stakeholders have been encouraged to implement the protocol in an all-round way according to their different responsibilities, so as to ensure the smooth realization of annual compliance objectives.
Ⅲ. Establish and improve the system of laws and regulations for implementing the protocol, and promote scientific and law-based compliance
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) has explored to split the overall objectives of the protocol into different goals for relevant sectors and fields, and made the implementation in accordance with the objectives and requirements of rule of law, so as to implement the protocol on scientific and legal basis. Over the past three decades, MEE, together with relevant departments, has made bold attempts and successful explorations in establishing and improving the system of laws and regulations for implementing the protocol. MEE has also put forth efforts for the promulgation of the Regulation on the Administration of Ozone Depleting Substances, making it the first regulation in China to convert international environmental conventions into domestic regulations. It is also the legal basis for ecological and environmental departments at all levels to supervise and enforce the protocol implementation. In addition, according to the protocol implementation requirements and process, more than one hundred normative documents and management policies have been issued, which promoted the whole process management of various ODS in different application fields, and ensured the realization of the protocol compliance objectives and sustainable compliance.
Ⅳ. Innovative phase-out and replacement models in various sectors, and facilitate industrial transformation and upgrading
According to the compliance mechanism of the Protocol, MEE, proceeding from China’s national conditions and the reality of related industries, on the one hand, resolutely fulfills the obligations of international conventions and maintains the image of a responsible major country. On the other hand, it strives to promote the transformation and upgrading of related industries, and continues to maintain the competitive position of advantageous sectors in international competition. By establishing the sector-based phase-out mechanism, strengthening the guidance of policies and standards, intensifying the R&D and application of substitutes, multiple measures have been taken to carry out compliance phase-out activities. Over the past 30 years, with the support of the Multilateral Fund, China successfully implemented the overall phase-out management plans of 32 sectors and more than 400 phase-out projects, close more than 100 ODS-related production lines, and support thousands of enterprises to complete the transformation of alternative technologies, which has effectively reduced the production and use of ODS, and promoted the development and application of alternative technologies with independent intellectual property rights in related sectors in China.
Ⅴ. Strengthen the law enforcement and supervision system, and create a sound compliance environment
Since China acceded to the Montreal Protocol, it has continuously improved the supervision and enforcement system, unremittingly cracked down on the illegal production, sale and use of ODS, and strived to create a compliance atmosphere featuring integrity and observance of law in various sectors to ensure the continuous compliance. First, it has consolidated the responsibility of local EEBs at all levels for compliance supervision, and comprehensively strengthened the capacity building of law enforcement. Second, special law enforcement actions have been carried out to train enforcement personnel and improve enforcement capacity in practice. The actions also greatly enhanced the deterrent effect against illegal acts. Third, the mechanism of compliance task force has been established to crack down on illegal acts assisted by the industry, so that illegal acts have nowhere to hide. Fourth, it has improved information level of supervision, carried out the whole-process and closed-loop supervision for the high-risk substances in compliance with the protocol, and effectively reduced the risk of ODS flowing to the illegal market by improving technical prevention capabilities. Fifth, relying on ODS import and export management institutions and supervision mechanisms, China has accurately cracked down on illegal ODS exports and resolutely implemented the protocol.
Ⅵ. Facilitate international cooperation and publicity, and better tell China’s compliance stories
Thirty years ago, China’s economic foundation was still rather weak, and most of the key ODS-related sectors were still in the initial stage of development, featuring inadequate funds, extensive management and relatively backward technology. In order to solve the issues of funding, technology and management in the process of compliance, China has actively carried out international cooperation in the past 30 years. China has introduced Multilateral Fund cooperation projects, international advanced alternative technologies, and advanced management experience of international institutions. Those efforts in international cooperation helps China establish its image in the implementation of the protocol, better tell China’s compliance stories, and gradually improve its international influence.