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New green push vow by Bahrain.

BAHRAIN has pledged to crack down on companies illegally importing substances that are harmful to the environment.

The government is taking part in a global initiative involving 195 countries to try and stop the use of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS).

It began trying to rid Bahrain of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) last year and has limited the number of licensed importers to 12, confirmed Supreme Council for the Environment chief executive Dr Adel Al Zayani.

But he said the authorities were also aware the plan could create a blackmarket.

"Any illegal trade will have stern penalties on those individuals," said Dr Al Zayani during a meeting of the West Asian network of ODS experts at the MUvenpick Hotel, Muharraq.

"We are working in line with customs and other authorities to monitor imports of HCFCs.

"We understand why it would happen as 75 per cent of HCFCs are used for air conditioning, which is needed in this part of the world."

The plan to stop the use of ODS in Bahrain started in 2009 when a decree was drawn up not to increase their use, which will be fully enacted by the beginning of next year.

Bahrain also plans to reduce HCFCs by 10pc in 2015, by 67.5pc by 2025 and by 97.5pc by 2030.

"Bahrain is keen to protect the environment not only for this generation but for all generations to come," said Dr Al Zayani.

Members of Unep, Unido and environmental officials attended yesterday's event, under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad's personal representative and Supreme Council for Environment president Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

"Before 2013 there were 64 importers but to better regulate and limit the amount coming into the country only 12 of them were given the licence to continue importing," said Supreme Council for Environment national ozone officer Jaffar Salman.

"There are only two of the 97 ODS that are being used and the other one is methyl bromide which will be phased out by the end of the year."

The chemical is only used for disinfecting purposes and can easily be replaced with heat treatment.

The shift away from HCFC is expected to hit business, but to ease the transition the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) will provide more than $3 million to Bahrain to ease the economic burden.

"As of now the biggest user of HCFC in Bahrain is Awal Gulf Manufacturing Company (a refrigeration and air conditioning equipment manufacturer) which accounts for about 70pc of Bahrain's HCFC use in their manufacturing process," said Unido Montreal Protocol branch industrial development officer Lamia Benabbas.

"The bulk of the gas is not used in the running of air conditioners but in the making.

"So between December 2012 and DeceNewmber 2014 a little over $550,000 has been assigned to develop recyclers for the AC units and also to do tests and trials to find the best components for the conditions in Bahrain."

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:May 13, 2013
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