Protecting the ozone layer successfully - GulfToday

Protecting the ozone layer successfully

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Illustrative image.

The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun.

World Ozone Day is observed on 16 September every year. As the Montreal Protocol to Protect the Ozone Layer, the most successful environmental treaty to date, turns 35 on Ozone Day, countries across the globe commemorated how the Protocol ended one of the biggest threats ever to face humanity as a whole: the depletion of the ozone layer.

The theme of Ozone Day this year was ‘Montreal Protocol at 35: global cooperation protecting life on earth’. The theme recognizes the wider impact the Montreal Protocol has on climate change and the need to act in collaboration, forge partnerships and develop global cooperation to address climate challenges and protect life on earth for future generations.

India too observed World Ozone Day. Speaking on the occasion, the Union Environment Minister said that India has not been a traditional contributor to global emissions, but that in its actions, it is showing the intent to be a problem solver, according to the official press release. The Minister added that the Ministry will soon be entering into collaboration with eight Indian Institutes of Technology (Mumbai, Roorkee, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Guwahati, Banaras, Chennai and Delhi) to promote research and development of chemicals with low global warming potential, including blends. These can be used as alternatives to substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol. The collaborative research will be done in line with industry requirements through engagement of research scholars, leading to the development of a robust R&D ecosystem in this area, and will also help promote the Make in India initiative of the government.

The press release adds that India, as Party to the Montreal Protocol since June 1992, has been successfully implementing the Montreal Protocol and projects and activities for phasing out of ozone depleting substances, in line with the phase out schedule of the Protocol. India phased out Chlorofluorocarbons, Carbon tetrachloride, Halons, Methyl Bromide and Methyl Chloroform for controlled uses as on 1 January 2010, in line with the Montreal Protocol schedule. Currently, hydrochlorofluorocarbons are being phased out as per the accelerated schedule of the Montreal Protocol.

Implementation of actions emerging from India Cooling Action Plan will also supplement efforts in adopting climate-friendly alternatives and promotion of energy efficiency during the implementation of HFC phase-out. This will significantly contribute to India’s climate action in achieving the net zero emissions by 2070

The UN website on Ozone Day states that the ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet. The phase-out of controlled uses of ozone depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer for this and future generations, but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change; furthermore, it has protected human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth.

A number of commonly used chemicals have been found to be extremely damaging to the ozone layer. The scientific confirmation of the depletion of the ozone layer prompted the international community to establish a mechanism for cooperation to take action to protect the ozone layer.

As the website highlights, when the world found out that ozone-depleting gases used in aerosols and cooling were creating a hole in the sky, they came together. They showed that multilateralism and effective global cooperation worked and they phased out these gases. Now the ozone layer is healing, allowing it once again to shield humanity from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

This was formalized in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was adopted and signed by 28 countries, on 22 March 1985. In September 1987, this led to the drafting of The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

The principal aim of the Montreal Protocol is to protect the ozone layer by taking measures to control total global production and consumption of substances that deplete it, with the ultimate objective of their elimination on the basis of developments in scientific knowledge and technological information. It is structured around several groups of ozone-depleting substances. The groups of chemicals are classified according to the chemical family and are listed in annexes to the Montreal Protocol text. The Protocol requires the control of nearly 100 chemicals, in several categories. For each group or annex of chemicals, the Treaty sets out a timetable for the phase-out of production and consumption of those substances, with the aim of eventually eliminating them completely.

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