Dubai, 4 October 2015 - Research published today at a meeting of the Montreal Protocol in Dubai reveals the serious human health and economic consequences averted by concerted and coordinated global action on the protecting the ozone layer.
Synthesis of the 2014 Reports of the Scientific, Environmental Effects, and Technology & Economic Assessment Panels of the Montreal Protocol confirms that stratospheric ozone has stabilized and the ozone layer is healing.
The ozone layer will have recovered to pre-1980 levels by around 2060-eighty years after Nature magazine published research unveiling the link between manmade chemicals and the degradation of the Earth's ozone layer.
As a result of this research, the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987, prompting nations to phase out ozone-depleting substances.
However, the report says it will take another 60 years for all of the health impacts, in terms of cataracts and skin cancer, to be reversed.
The report also notes outstanding issues that remain in the protection of the ozone layer, and the consequences of the introduction of some substitutes for Ozone Depleting Substances, which can contribute to climate change.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are replacements for ODS, could jeopardize the substantial climate benefits achieved through the Montreal Protocol.
BENEFITS OF MONTREAL PROTOCOL
According to new models released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Montreal Protocol and its amendments provide the following health benefits for those born between 1890 and 2100 in the United States:
- 283 million cases of skin cancer prevented, 8.3 million of which are melanoma.
- 1.6 million deaths from skin cancer prevented.
- 46 million cases of cataracts prevented.
At a global level, up to 2 million cases of skin cancer may be prevented each year by 2030, along with additional avoided cataracts cases.
Among the economic benefits of the Montreal Protocol are savings in healthcare costs. Reducing the number of skin cancer cases could save billions of dollars across the globe. In the United States alone, research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November 2014 revealed that the average cost of treating 4.9 million adults for any skin cancer each year reached $8.1 billion between 2007 and 2011.
The Montreal Protocol has so far averted estimated emissions of over 135 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
TIMELINE OF KEY EVENTS
1974 - Rowland and Molina predicted that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) would destroy the ozone layer. At peak, world production was ~1 million tonnes/year.
1985 - The Antarctic ozone 'hole' was discovered. Surface levels of UV radiation increased over southern latitudes.
1987 - The Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer was signed.
Mid-1990s - Levels of ODS in the atmosphere stopped increasing.
Today - Ozone levels are showing signs of recovery - the ozone hole is not getting any worse.
2060 - Ozone levels and surface UV radiation will have normalized.
2080 - The health impacts will finally have reversed.