The protective ozone layer on earth is well on its way to recovery, says report while signaling completely heals by 2060

NEW DELHI: The earth’s protective ozone layer is well on track to recovery, thanks to international efforts against ozone-depleting substances. The healing signs of ozone layer was revealed on Monday by a new assessment report on Montreal Protocol (MP), the over 30-year-old global treaty which deals with reduction of ozone-depleting substances.

The report, released by the UN Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Ecuador’s capital Quito, presents scientific evidence, showing continuous decrease in concentration of ozone-depleting substances at a certain rate since 2000.

The ozone layer protects life on earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays from the sun. So its depletion is sought to be reversed by 191 countries, including India, under the Protocol.

Referring to projected rates, the report says the northern hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone is “scheduled to heal completely by the 2030s followed by the southern hemisphere in the 2050s and polar regions by 2060”.

The report may send a positive signal to the global community which had joined hands in 1987 to end the use of ozone-depleting substances (CFCs, HCFCs and others) in refrigerators, air conditioners, aerosol cans and other related products by switching over to non-ozone depleting substances as refrigerants.

The report is expected to prepare the nations together to implement Kigali Amendment which will enter into force from January 1, 2019. The Kigali Amendment to the Protocol, made in 2016, deals with phasing down the use of other substances like HFCs which are not ozone-depleting but are quite damaging for the climate due to its high global warming potential. “The Kigali Amendment to the MP provides a great opportunity to further reduce both direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the air condition and refrigeration sector. Most potential is in increasing the energy efficiency of these appliances as 80% of the emissions are due to the use of electricity and 20% due to the release of the refrigerants,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Scientists found that the world can avoid up to 0.4 degree celsius of global warming this century through implementation of the Kigali Amendment. India is also bound by the Protocol and its amendment, but the country gets more time to get rid of such gases as compared to the window available to developed countries and China.

“The latest report is testimony to the MP being an institutional success. It shows that the ozone layer is under repair, and highlights areas that must be strengthened for it to be an equally successful platform to phase out HFCs to limit global warming,” said Shikha Bhasin, programme lead, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

The findings come at a time when the world is still grappling with a sobering message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that just 12 years remain to limit global warming to 1.5 degree C. The IPCC says beyond 1.5 degree C, the impact of a further rise in global temperatures will begin to have an increasingly extreme impact on humans and ecosystems. “If countries are able to strike a deal that enables the rapid introduction of highly energy-efficient appliances alongside a phase-down of HFCs, the total reduction of GHG emissions could be more than doubled. In light of the IPCC’s 1.5 degree celsius report, it is incumbent on all countries to come together, like what they did in Kigali in 2016, and strike a deal quickly,” said Bhushan.

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment Programme, said, “The careful mix of authoritative science and collaborative action that has defined the Protocol for more than 30 years and was set to heal our ozone layer is precisely why the Kigali Amendment holds such promise for climate action in future.”



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