Finally! Some good environmental news…
According to a recent report from the UN titled “Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018” scientists have found that the hole in the ozone layer has been gradually getting smaller by about 2% each year since 2000.
The ozone layer shields humans, crops and animals from the sun’s ultraviolet light which can cause skin cancer, cataracts and destroys plant life and marine habitats.
Scientists have found that the hole in the ozone layer has been gradually getting smaller by about 2% each year since 2000
The decrease is proof that if worldwide governments join together to tackle environmental problems, they can create earth saving change. Take the Montreal Protocol for example. Created in 1987, the treaty was originally signed by 46 countries that aimed to regulate the production and use of chemicals that contribute to the depletion of Earth’s ozone layer known as ODS (ozone depleting substances). The result of that first treaty? The complete phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a gas that was commonly used in fridges and aerosol cans as well as other ozone depleting substances that were discovered over the years.
Before the Montreal Protocol was enacted, scientists predicted that by 2060 the ozone layer would be completely destroyed. Because of the action that governments took in 1987 the new prediction is that by 2060 the ozone layer will actually be fully healed.
While banning CFCs has certainly helped the rejuvenation of the ozone layer, another environmental issue has replaced it, literally.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) is a gas used to replace CFC’s as it was originally thought to be safer. While that is certainly true when it comes to protecting the ozone layer, scientists have since discovered that HFC’s are actually a greenhouse gas a thousand times more powerful than carbon dioxide which is a huge contributor to climate change.
HFC’s are actually a greenhouse gas a thousand times more powerful than carbon dioxide which is a huge contributor to climate change
Once again, a meeting of the Montreal Protocol was held, this time in 2016 in Kigali. This time 197 countries participated and made an agreement to start the phasing out process of HFC’s also in a bid to slow down climate change. Phasing out is going to be hard - according to Greenpeace, HFC’s are still increasing at a rate of 10% to 15% a year, making them the fastest-growing greenhouse gas in the world. The main culprit – air conditioners.
The decision at the time was to phase out HFC’s in three stages with differing deadlines. The period for developing countries to come into compliance is slightly longer, owing to the fact that they have fewer technical and financial resources to introduce substitutes.
Developed nations, including the US and many European countries, will start reducing HFC emissions in 2019 and hope to have ceased consumption by 2024.
The second group of around 100 developing nations, including China, will start reducing in 2024.
The third group of mainly developing countries including India, Pakistan and some Persian Gulf states will begin their phase-outs even later, in 2028. These countries will also be able to seek financial assistance from developed countries to help them in transition to climate friendly alternatives.
While the measures put in place to save our ozone layer is proving to be successful, the world will be watching to see if the world leaders can band together in a similar way to combat greenhouse gases and save our planet.
Source: United States Environmental