BASSETERRE, St Kitts, 5th February, 2023 – The National Ozone Unit (NOU) within the Department of Environment continues its project work on the Montreal Protocol with student data collectors.
The Montreal Protocol, to which St Kitts and Nevis is party, addresses Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and is a landmark environmental agreement that controls the manufacture and the use of man-made chemicals that, in turn, damages the ozone layer which is a protective shield from the harmful radiation of the sun to humans and the environment.
Critical components of the Montreal Protocol include data collection and monitoring. The students are therefore charged with updating the three-year-old National Database of refrigeration and air conditioning technicians on both islands as part of the Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) which is one of the programmes under the Montreal Protocol to phase out Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS).
In Stage 1 of the project, the students, who all study Natural Sciences, will engage at least seventy air condition and refrigerator technicians, especially in fisheries, yachting, and hotel sector, who, by nature of their jobs, deal directly with the gases that weaken the ozone layer. The objective of the project is to achieve at least a 35% reduction in Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) used in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Abygale Richards, former Cayon High School Environment Club member and a year two student of Natural Sciences at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College shared her anticipation in joining the project.
She said, “I am excited because I get to volunteer for the Montreal Protocol. I am just excited for the experience and opportunity because it may help me in the future.”
Meanwhile, Vicia Woods, Biosafety Officer in the Department of Environment, said one outcome from the data collection is opportunities for training for the technicians, owing to the fact that some did not have formal opportunities for apprenticeship.
She said, “The reason why we want to know this information is because for the same project, we want to provide the opportunities of training and also with the requisite tools. We also want to ensure that the technicians are up to date with the latest technologies. That is why we need as many persons as possible to know what is needed, what we have and how it is being used and how we can make it better.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Sharon Rattan said ultimately, the exercise seeks to complete the mapping of technicians, importers, and the use of their technologies.
She said, “The data being collected would assist the National Ozone Unit in being aware of the training, equipment and technology needs within the sector. With this information, the NOU will be better equipped to assist the sector in St. Kitts and Nevis in being compliant with the Montreal Protocol.”
Through this data collection exercise, possible outcomes include the establishment of a formal Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Association, reformation of policy and legislation, heightened public awareness, the establishment of licensing and certification systems and the development and implementation of a monitoring, evaluating and reporting mechanism.
In December 2022, the Minister of Environment et al, Hon. Dr. Joyelle Clarke, Permanent Secretary in the same Ministry, Sharon Rattan and Woods met with a visiting Montreal Protocol Monitoring Team to reaffirm St Kitts and Nevis’ commitment to implementing required project activities starting with the engagement of students, in particular, former CHS Environment Club members and Natural Sciences and Environmental Science students for the data collection for Phase 1 of the project activities.