Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
TOUR operators and hoteliers have been urged to embrace the green tourism concept so as to reduce amounts of gases released into the environment in line with the Montreal Protocol.
The Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer is the landmark multilateral environmental agreement that regulates the production and consumption of nearly 100 man-made chemicals referred to as ozone depleting substances (ODS), which when released to the atmosphere, they damage the stratospheric ozone layer causing climate change.
It was adopted in September 1987 and has been ratified by 198 United Nations member States.
Hotels are known to emit Hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs) contributing to global warming and climate change through refrigeration and air conditioning services.
HCFCs are a group of chemicals that contain Hydrogen, Chlorine, Fluorine and Carbon atoms.
There have also been concerns from the energy sector about high consumption rate of electricity by hotels through round the clock use of air conditioning equipment and refrigerators hence the call for adoption of green energy.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Permanent Secretary Mr Munesu Munodawafa recently visited a number of hotels in Victoria Falls to apprise them on the need to assess compliance to the Montreal Protocol’s Hydrochloroflourocarbon phase-out target of January 2030.
African Sun has taken the lead with Elephant Hills Resort becoming the first operator to replace environment damaging gas equipment with environment friendly cylinders handed over by Government.
The hotel received 11 cylinders and one recovery machine from Government for the capture of HCFC-22 from decommissioned air conditioning units.
Handing over the equipment to Elephant Hills management, Mr Munodawafa said his Ministry will continue working with implementing partners to acquire more environment friendly equipment as Government has committed itself to giving them to hotels free of charge.
“Faced with unprecedented levels of disasters caused by climate change and health related effects of ozone layer depletion, parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed to the accelerated phasing out of HCFCs. Fearing that the refrigeration and air conditioning industry in Zimbabwe might fail to meet the deadline and face severe penalties, we decided to assess the level of compliance and preparedness of our hotel and tourism industry to meet the 1st January 2030 deadline.
“Through our discussions with the general managers and maintenance managers, I am happy that our tourism and hospitality industry is on track to meet this deadline. I greatly appreciate your proactive roles in this regard,” said Mr Munodawafa.
He commended Elephant Hills Resort for taking the lead while urging other players to emulate.
Mr Munodawafa said tourism players especially in Victoria Falls should be commended for making tremendous efforts to comply with national and international obligations to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
The Ministry will be collecting and properly disposing of the recovered refrigerants.
“We also discovered that some establishments are already decommissioning the HCFC based air conditioning appliances but do not have equipment to capture the refrigerant for proper destruction as stipulated under the Montreal Protocol. In addition, the Government is also obliged to report on quantities of recovered and destroyed refrigerants.
The refrigerants are captured and destroyed through high temperature incineration to reduce their impact on the ozone layer and the global climate system.
Elephant Hills Resort decided to decommission its air conditioning units that are currently running on HCFC-22 and replace them with HFC-410A which will be phased down later.
The hotel’s general manager Mr Chiku Mulinde thanked the Government for the equipment.
He said the hotelier will continue adopting eco-friendly systems so as to promote sustainable tourism and protect the environment. — @ncubeleon