14 Sep 2018 Story Air

Keep cool and carry on: protecting our ozone layer and climate on World Ozone Day

Reuters

The Montreal Protocol, the international treaty that protects the ozone layer, has been also keeping our planet cooler for years: it helped phase out ozone-depleting substances that are also potent warming gases.

On 16 September 2018, World Ozone Day, the Secretariat of the Protocol will urge everyone to “keep cool and carry on” by celebrating the work so far, continuing to protect the ozone layer and accelerating action to take an even bigger bite out of climate change.

The Montreal Protocol came into being over 30 years ago in response to the revelation that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances – used in aerosols, cooling and refrigeration systems, and many other items – were tearing a hole in the ozone layer and allowing dangerous ultraviolet radiation to flood through.

Under the Protocol, nations commit to slashing the production and use of these substances, which are also greenhouse gases and so major contributors to global warming. As a result, the ozone layer is now healing and will return to 1980 levels by mid-century. Up to two million cases of skin cancer may be prevented each year by 2030, and the planet is cooler than it would otherwise have been.

“Today the Montreal Protocol stands as an example of what we can achieve through intelligence, leadership and innovation,” said UN Environment head Erik Solheim. “On World Ozone Day, let’s reflect on and celebrate how we came together to fix the hole in the sky. This shows that no problem is too big for us to fix.”

Taking up the climate challenge

The Montreal Protocol continues to regulate ozone-depleting substances and will contribute even more to the fight against global warming through its Kigali Amendment, which enters into force on 1 January 2019. This amendment is expected to avoid up to 0.5°C of global warming by the end of the century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.

The Kigali Amendment allows the Protocol to target a reduction in the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which became widely-used substitutes for ozone-depleting substances. HFCs are powerful climate-warming gases. Countries that ratify the Kigali Amendment have committed to cutting the production and consumption of HFCs by more than 80 per cent over the next 30 years and replacing them with planet-friendly alternatives. As of now, 46 countries have ratified the Kigali Amendment.

The parties to the Protocol are also addressing unexpected emissions of CFCs. The detection of the emissions shows that the monitoring, networks and science in place to protect the ozone layer are working, and parties have agreed to find and eradicate the illegal sources.

“The theme for this year’s World Ozone Day is a rallying call urging all of us to carry on with the exemplary work under the Montreal Protocol,” said Tina Birmpili, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat. “We can be proud of how we have protected the ozone layer and the climate, but we must also focus on what more we can do to reduce global warming under the Kigali Amendment.”

The responsibility to protect the ozone layer and the climate doesn’t lie with governments alone. Individuals can do their part by choosing and using their refrigerators, air conditioners and other equipment responsibly. By properly using, servicing and disposing of these appliances, you can minimize energy use and emissions, and save money.

Parties to the Protocol, and anybody else who wishes to do so, can organize events to commemorate World Ozone Day. The theme and tagline of the day in all six official UN languages are available on the Secretariat’s website, along with free-to-use posters and other materials.

The theme has two connotations – that our work of protecting the ozone layer also protects the climate and that the Montreal Protocol is a “cool” treaty, as exemplified by its outstanding achievements as the world’s most-successful international environmental agreement.

For more information on how to celebrate World Ozone Day, or to tell the Secretariat about events you may be planning, please contact Dan Teng’o.