More protection: UN says Earth’s ozone layer is healing


At the recovery rates projected by the United Nations report, 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.

This year, the ozone hole over the South Pole peaked at almost 9.6 million square miles - which is still about 16% smaller than the biggest hole recorded.

The report noted that if CFC-11 emissions continued at the same rate, return of mid-latitude and polar ozone-depleting chemicals to their 1980 values would be delayed by about seven and 20 years, respectively.

Amid all the bad news about the environment there is one chink of light - the Earth's ozone layer is healing, scientists say.

The Montreal Protocol was finalized in 1987 in response to the realization that numerous chemicals used in aerosols, air conditioning systems, refrigerators, and industrial solvents were eroding the planet's stratosphere, creating a hole and allowing harmful levels of ultraviolet radiation to seep through the ozone layer.

As the ozone layer began to thin, more lifeforms, including humans, were exposed to stronger solar rays which increases the likelihood of cancer.

The restrictions are contributing to the slow "healing" of the ozone layer, according to the report by the UN Environment Programme, World Meteorological Organisation, European Commission and other bodies.

This healing progress is attributed to worldwide initiatives under the Montreal Protocol, a global agreement that was formed more than 30 years ago in response to climate change concerns. And the Montreal Protocol is set to be enhanced in early 2019 with the ratification of the Kigali Amendment, which seeks to curb future climate change by targeting powerful greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

"As a result of the Montreal Protocol much more severe ozone depletion in the polar regions has been avoided", the report said.

So a healed ozone layer will worsen man-made climate change there a bit, Newman said. 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. "We stopped that", Paul Newman, a NASA scientist and co-chairman of the new United Nations report, told the AP.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the IPCC report an "ear-splitting wake-up call". Without such measures having been taken, scientists say around two thirds of the world's already depleted ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065. It will play a major role in keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C.