Quantcast

UN: Healing Ozone Layer Shows Why Environmental Treaties Matter

Science
A view of Earth's atmosphere from space. NASA

After decades of thinning, Earth's ozone layer is slowing recovering, the United Nations (UN) said in a report released Monday, highlighting how international co-operation can help tackle major environmental issues.

The ozone layer, which protects humans and other species from the sun's highly hazardous ultraviolet radiation, has been declining since the 1970s due to the effect of chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar gases found in refrigerants and aerosol spray cans.


But the new studyScientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018—shows that ozone in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1-3 percent since 2000 due to the success of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the landmark multilateral environmental agreement that phased out ozone-depleting substances.

"It's really good news," report co-chairman Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, told the Associated Press. "If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects. We stopped that."

That said, the ozone layer still has a long road to complete recovery. If progress continues, the Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone should be healed by the 2030s, followed by the Southern Hemisphere in the 2050s and polar regions by 2060, according to the study.

"I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060," Newman added to the AP. "That will be for our grandchildren to do."

Notably, scientists have recently detected a mysterious rise of CFCs out of eastern Asia.

Newman also pointed out to the AP that the refrigerants that are currently being also need to be replaced themselves with chemicals that do not worsen global warming.

Next year, the Montreal Protocol is set to be strengthened with the ratification of the Kigali Amendment, which slashes climate-warming gases in refrigerators, air conditioners and related products.

Still, the new report is "an inspiration for more ambitious climate action to halt a catastrophic rise in world temperatures," the UN said in a press release of the new report, adding the findings "provide a ray of hope" less than a month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its dire report urging drastic action to stave off catastrophic climate change.

The writers of the new report said that with the full implementation of the Kigali Amendment, the world can avoid up to 0.4 percent of global warming this century, meaning that it will play a major role in keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C.

"The Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history for a reason," Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment stated in the press release. "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."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less