Ozone-depleting substances and Montreal Protocol
Until recently, ozone-depleting substances (ODS) have been used as refrigerants in refrigeration equipment, foaming agents in insulation, and propellants in sprays. The release of wide-spread ODSs into the atmosphere resulted in the depletion of the ozone layer that protects the Earth’s surface from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. To stop the destruction of the stratospheric ozone, all the countries of the world signed the Montreal Protocol that introduced the ODS phase-out schedule. In Russia, laws, by-laws, and regulations and orders of ministries control management of ODS at the national level, and non-compliance with their requirements implies administrative and criminal sanctions.
What are ozone-depleting substances
Ozone-depleting substances, or ODSs, are derivatives of saturated hydrocarbons containing chlorine and bromine atoms. These compounds persist long enough to reach the ozone layer at 20–40 km where they emit chlorine and bromine radicals that deplete ozone.
The ozone shield in the stratosphere protects the Earth’s surface from UVB radiation. When ozone molecules are destroyed, more UVB rays reach the Earth resulting in lower yields of cultivated plants, loss of phytoplankton, the basis of food reserve of the ocean, weakening of immune systems, increase of cancer incidence, damaged DNA.
Where and how ODSs are used
In the 1890s, dichlorodifluoromethane, one of the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), was synthesized in a laboratory. In 1928, a team of chemists led by Thomas Midgley Jr. improved the route of synthesis of dichlorodifluoromethane, and offered it as a safe alternative to refrigerants that were used then, to begin with, ammonia. Freon, a trade name of the new substance, soon became an umbrella term for all synthetic refrigerants, so today the dichlorodifluoromethane is referred to as R-12, or CFC-12.
Besides refrigeration equipment, freons also found use in aerosols and foam insulation.
After the discovery of the ozone-destruction effect of CFCs, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), so-called transition refrigerants, were offered as a temporary solution, and R-22, R-141b, R-123 gained widespread use. Although to a lesser degree than CFCs, HCFCs deplete ozone, too.
Montreal Protocol and Russian ozone legislation
On September 16, 1987, representatives of 46 countries signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in Montreal, Canada. Originally, the protocol aimed at phasing out and eliminating production and consumption of ODSs, but with the adoption of the Kigali amendment in 2016 it now covers fluorinated greenhouse gases as well.
At the initiative of the General Assembly of the UN, the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer (in Russian) is celebrated on the day when the protocol was signed. Today the main text of the protocol is signed and ratified by all the UN countries.
In the Russian Federation, ODSs are regulated by a set of laws, codes, decrees of the President, regulations and orders of the Government, and orders and instructions of government agencies.
Among the most fundamental documents are:
- Federal Law on Protection of the Environment No. 7-FZ dd. 10.01.2002, as amended,
- Regulation of the Government of the Russian Federation “On Measures of the State Regulation of Consumption and Circulation of Ozone-Depleting Substances,” dd. 24.03.2014 No. 228, as amended and revised.
As of August 2021, HCFCs are the only ODSs that still may be produced and consumed under the Montreal Protocol. Below is the table with the HCFC phase-out schedule.
|Non Article 5 countries ||Article 5 Countries|
|Base level||Average HCFC consumption in 1989 + 2.8% of CFC consumption in 1989 ||Base level||Average consumption in 2009–2010|
|Freezing||1996||Freezing||Since January 1, 2013|
|Reduction by 35%||Since January 1, 2014||Reduction by 10%||Since January 1, 2015|
|Reduction by 75%||Since January 1, 2010||Reduction by 35%||Since January 1, 2025|
|Reduction by 90%||Since January 1, 2015||Reduction by 67,5%||Since January 1, 2025|
|Reduction by 99,5%||Since January 1, 2020||Reduction by 97,5%||Since January 1, 2030|
|Reduction by 100%||Since January 1, 2030||Reduction by 100%||Since January 1, 2040|
Legal requirements and non-compliance responsibility
According to Article 42 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, everyone shall have the right to a favorable environment, reliable information about its state, and for restitution of damage inflicted on his health, and property by ecological transgressions. Violation of this right involving the threat to the ozone layer involves administrative or criminal liability.
If the requirements to management of ozone-depleting substances specified by Article 54 of the Federal Law on Protection of the Environment are not satisfied, sanctions provided by Article 8.2.1 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences are applied: administrative fines from 1,000 rubles for citizens to 400,000 rubles for legal entities that repeatedly violate the law within one year.
Government regulation “On measures of the state regulation of consumption and circulation of ozone-depleting substances” specifies requirements to ODS consumption records and relevant reports of legal entities and individual entrepreneurs. If the reports are not submitted or submitted late, Article 8.5 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences is applied: a fine from 20,00 to 80,000 rubles for legal entities.
Illegal moving of ODSs and ODS-containing equipment (ranked as goods and resources of strategic importance) at a cost of more than 1 mln rubles across the customs border of the Eurasian Economic Union or the state border of the Russian Federation creates criminal liability established by Article 226.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. A criminal may be sentenced to a fine of up to 1 mln rubles and 3–7 years of imprisonment, or 5–10 years when a crime is committed by a functionary using his official position, or with violence against persons who ensure border control or customs inspection, or in conspiracy, or 7–12 years when a crime is committed by an organized crime group.