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Ozone protection is not a castle in the sky

Life on Earth, the growing trees and the roaming animals, depends on a protected atmosphere – they depend on an ozone layer. When the world witnessed it breaking, all nations came together to repair it.


International Ozone Day, observed every year on September 16, commemorates the date of the signing of the most successful multilateral environmental agreement – the Montreal Protocol, on substances that deplete the ozone layer, in 1987. Countries have now eradicated all chlorofluorocarbons directly harming the ozone.


In a video message, the Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim acknowledged the achievement. “Recent research show us that the ozone layer is now healing – gradually coming back – and we can be optimistic to believe that by around 2050 it may have been fully restored,” he noted.


This year’s theme to Ozone Day, ‘Ozone and climate: Restored by a world united,’ emphasises the importance of addressing ozone layer protection, with climate benefits in mind.


Similar thoughts were reflected by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: “On this International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, let us remember how much has already been accomplished, and commit to do more to protect our atmosphere.”


Many events took place in countries of the Regional Ozone Network for Europe and Central Asia.


In Croatia, children spent a day with Ozzy and Zoe - cartoon characters that protect the ozone layer - in a variety of entertaining and educational activities. The Republic of Macedonia organised an informative session on: ozone layer protection, Montreal Protocol provisions and servicing practices, in a vocational school, in Skopje. Turkmenistan also organised a number of different activities for students, including an art competition attended by 1200 school children.


As revealed in Ban Ki-moon’s letter, “the world has changed since we last marked International Ozone Day. We now have our 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which will foster equitable inclusive growth and further the well-being of people and our planet”.


A hole new perspective


Following the global success in fighting ozone-depleting substances, in July the 197 parties that signed the Montreal Protocol also moved closer to a deal to eradicate hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HFCs).


HFC chemicals have been used to replace those being phased out under the Montreal Protocol, but are on average thousands of times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide.


Let’s hope that at next year’s International Ozone Day, 30 years on from the Protocol’s signing, the world will have improved again.


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