September 16 marks the International Day for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the fragile layer of gas that protects the earth from the damaging part of the sun’s rays, thus helping to preserve life on the planet.
The reason for choosing this date was the signing of the Montreal Protocol, on September 16, 1987, with the objective of protecting the ozone supplement through the instrument of gradual elimination of consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances.
The anniversary of this important day underscores the call to all the nations of the world to continue working to protect the ozone and prevent climate change. The Montreal Protocol has been defined by Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, as ‘the most successful international agreement to date.’
The results of the Montreal Protocol to date have resulted in a nearly 100 per cent reduction in the use of ozone-depleting substances, enabling recovery of ozone depletion and a return to 1980s levels. This has resulted in a range of measurable benefits. It is hoped that there will be a continued reduction in cases of skin cancer by 2030, with the expectation of benefits in economic terms up to $ 2.2 billion by 2050 as a result of reduced spending on health care and damage to agriculture.
35 years of protection for the ozone layer
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Vienna Convention and the 35th anniversary of the global protection of the ozone layer. Life on earth would not be possible without sunlight. But the energy emanating from the sun would be superfluous and harmful to the flourishing of life on earth if it were not for the ozone layer.
Thus, when scientists working in the late 1970s discovered that humanity was creating a hole in this protective shield, they raised the alarm. The hole – caused by ozone-depleting gases (ODS) used in aerosols and refrigerants, such as refrigerators and air conditioners – was also threatening to increase the incidence of skin and cataract cancers as well as causing damage to plants, crops and ecosystems.
In 1985, world governments ratified the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. Under the Montreal Protocol, governments, scientists, and industry worked together to cut off 99 per cent of all ozone-depleting substances.
Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer is recovering and is expected to return to pre-1980 values by the middle of this century. In support of the Protocol, the Kigal Agreement, which entered into force in 2019, will work towards the reduction of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), greenhouse gases with strong potential for global warming and environmental damage.