Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

The Ozone Layer Could Be Fully Healed By 2060, UN Report Reveals

The Ozone Layer Could Be Fully Healed By 2060, UN Report Reveals

The ozone layer's increasing health has been put down to the 1987 Montreal Protocol - an worldwide treaty banning ozone-depleting chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), alongside new technology.

However, if it could not be remedied the already slow recovery of the atmosphere's protective layer could be further delayed.

The results, presented on Monday in a four-year assessment of the health of the ozone layer, represent a rare instance of global environmental damage being repaired, and a victory for concerted global action by governments.

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

The ozone layer is a layer of the atmosphere which sits about 10 kilometres above the Earth's surface and protects life from ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.

A United Nations study has revealed that the ozone layer is slowly recovering, and is even expected to be fully repaired by the 2060s.

Ozone in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1-3 percent since 2000 and, at projected rates, 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.

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An amendment to the Montreal Protocol that goes into effect next year would cut use of some of those gases.

But in 1987, countries around the world agreed in the Montreal Protocol to phase out CFCs and businesses came up with replacements. The 9.6 million square mile hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic should have sealed itself by 2060.

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

If the Kigali Amendment is ratified in 2019, the revisions will add specific targets and timelines to find environmentally-friendly alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), restrict countries that have ratified the agreement from doing business in controlled substances with those that have not, and encourage richer countries to provide financial aid to poor countries transitioning to greener products.

The writers of the report found that, if the Kigali Amendment was fully implemented, the world could avoid up to 0.4 per cent of global warming this century, meaning that it will play a major role in keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C. Scientists informed about this danger and the chemicals which weaken the ozone were gradually stopped being used in the whole world.

The scientific assessment, released at a conference in Ecuador today, was described as "really good news" by Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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