The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
UN: Healing Ozone Layer Shows Why Environmental Treaties Matter
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 study—Scientific 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
Judge Blocks Oil and Gas Drilling on 300,000 Acres in Wyoming Until Government Considers Climate Impacts
Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.