Fast-Tracking Elimination of Production of Remaining Ozone-Depleting Substances Could Speed Up Ozone Layer Recovery by 11 Years

Dec 22nd, 2014 | By | Category: Green House Gas Emissions, International Agencies, News
viewimage.aspxThe recovery of the ozone layer – the shield that protects life on Earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays – would come sooner if we were to fast-track the elimination of the production of the ozone-depleting substance (ODS)hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and manage otherODSs that remain in equipment, building walls and chemical stockpiles, according to the full release of a report by nearly 300 scientists from 36 countries.Additionally, earlier phase out of relatively small remaining uses of ODSs, which are currently exempted for reasons of essentiality and criticality to society, would hasten ozone recovery, the report says. Altogether, preventing those emissions can speed up the recovery of the ozone layer by about 11 years.

Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2014” is the quadrennial report of the Scientific Assessment Panel (SAP) of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. A summary document of the report, the “Assessment for Decision Makers”, was published in September 2014 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The full report, released today, provides more details on the previously released findings.The SAP assesses the state of the depletion of the ozone layer and relevant atmospheric science issues every four years and provides Parties to the Montreal Protocol with critical information as they undertake their ozone protection activities and address challenges under the Protocol.

The report indicates that the ozone layer is showing the first signs of an upward ozone trend. Further, the ozone layer is on track to recovery to 1980 benchmark levels-the time before significant ozone layer depletion- by the middle of this century, thanks to concerted international action to phase out ODSs.

Although over 2.2 million metric tonnes of ODSs have been phased out over time by the nations of the world under the provisions of the Montreal Protocol, 640,000 metric tonnes of HCFCs remain to be phased out.

The assessment report projects that atmospheric ODS amounts will continue to decline through the 21st century, assuming continued compliance with the Montreal Protocol. Since ODSs are also potent global warming gases, the Protocol has significantly contributed to climate change mitigation, having averted more than 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

The report warns that the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol could be significantly offset by projected increases in emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are being used to replace ODSs. HFCs, which are not ozone-depleting substances but are global-warming gases, are increasing in the atmosphere and future emissions could make a large contribution to climate change. The large HFC climate effects could be avoided by replacing high-global-warming potential (GWP) HFCs with low-GWP HFCs and other alternatives, the report notes.

The SAP presented the report’s findings during the Joint 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and the 26th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol held in Paris 17 – 21 November 2014.

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