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Ozone Layer: Slowly On The Way To Full Recovery


According to United Nations scientists, the Ozone layer that protects the Earth from solar radiation is on track to completely recover within the next four decades thanks to the Montreal Protocol.

January 2023.-
A United Nations-backed group of experts presented their conclusions at the 103rd annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society. Among them, they highlight that the gradual elimination of chemical substances harmful to the ozone layer will contribute to mitigate global warming up to 0.5 °C.

The quadrennial report of the Montreal Protocol's Scientific Assessment Panel has also confirmed that the phase-out of almost 99% of the chemicals that damage the ozone layer has succeeded in protecting the planet's protective shield.

St├ęphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, says: "The gradual elimination of nearly 99% of Ozone-depleting chemicals has resulted in the preservation of ozone, contributing significantly to the recovery of the upper stratosphere and the reduction of human exposure to the Sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation."

He also warned about the use of new technologies: "The group of scientists has warned about the possible negative effects of stratospheric aerosol injection to reduce climate change."

The Montreal Protocol, key to the ozone layer

The Montreal Protocol, signed on September 16, 1987 by a total of 197 countries, has led to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, one of the main causes of global warming. This has been one of the most successful environmental agreements.

It was born as a solution to the problem of damage and growth of the ozone layer hole. During its inception, the Montreal Protocol included only the commitment of developed countries to progressively reduce the use and production of ozone-depleting chemicals.

Subsequently, more countries joined the protection commitment. By 1989, the countries adhering to the Montreal Protocol undertook to control, limit and regulate the production, consumption and trade of chemicals that damage the ozone layer.

If current policies are maintained, by the year 2066 the ozone hole over Antarctica should have disappeared, provided that the 1980 values are recovered. In addition, by 2045 the values should also be restored over the Arctic and around 2040 for the rest of the world.

Meg Seki, executive secretary of the Ozone Secretariat of the UN Environment Program, has described the scientists' conclusions very positively: The impact that the Montreal Protocol has had on climate change mitigation cannot be ignored in any way. Over the last 35 years, the Protocol has become a true champion of the environment.

Positive impact to mitigate climate change

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, approved in 2016, calls for the phase-out of the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Although they do not directly damage the ozone layer, they do contribute to climate change as they are powerful greenhouse gases.

According to Professor Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Amendment will contribute to mitigate global warming between 0.3 and 0.5°C from today until the year 2100.

The measures taken in relation to ozone set a precedent for climate action. The success achieved in phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals shows us what can and should be done to move away from fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and thus limit the rise in temperatures.

Experts warn that we must be very attentive to see how the ozone layer evolves over the next few years, given that the full recovery of the ozone layer also depends on complying with the required greenhouse gas (GHG) limitations.