UN says Earth's ozone layer is healing

This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on September 2000 left and September 2018. The purple and blue colors are where there is the least ozone and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone

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.

In parts of the stratosphere, where most of the ozone is found, the layer has recovered at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000, the authors state. Scientists raised the alarm and ozone-depleting chemicals were phased out worldwide.

The decline in CFCs in our atmosphere as a result of those measures now mean the ozone layer is expected to have fully recovered sometime in the 2060s, according to the report by the UN Environment Programme, World Meteorological Organization, European Commission and other bodies.

It shows that the concentration of ozone-depleting substances continues to decrease, leading to an improvement in the layer since the previous assessment carried out in 2014.

Monday's report says the Northern Hemisphere's upper ozone layer should be repaired in the 2030s and the Southern Hemisphere's by mid-century. The worldwide agreement compelled the global community to begin the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halons.

The ozone layer's recuperation has been credited to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which mandated that countries phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting chemicals.

The purple and blue colors show where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone.

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The Protocol was in response to the revelation that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances - used in aerosols, cooling and refrigeration systems, and many other items - were tearing a hole in the ozone layer and allowing risky ultraviolet radiation to flood through. "Most potential is in increasing the energy efficiency of these appliances as 80% of the emissions are due to the use of electricity and 20% due to the release of the refrigerants", said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

If nothing had been done to stop the thinning, the world would have destroyed two-thirds of its ozone layer by 2065, Newman said.

The UN had already hailed the success of the Protocol but the report said it was the first time that there were emerging indications that the Antarctic ozone hole had diminished in size and depth since 2000.

Another problem is that new technology has found an increase in emissions of a banned CFC out of East Asia, the report noted.

So a healed ozone layer will worsen man-made climate change there a bit, Newman said.

But an amendment to the Montreal Protocol is set to come into place next year which will ban the chemical.

'I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060, ' he said.

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