Today is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. The Coalition congratulates the Montreal Protocol partners for their success at progressively restoring the ozone layer, which protects all life on the planet from deadly levels of ultraviolet rays and prevent up to 2 million cases of skin cancer across the world annually.
In 1989 the Montreal Protocol was established to repair the ozone layer by phasing out ozone-depleting chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). It has been remarkably successful. This year scientists identified the “first fingerprints of healing” of the Antarctic ozone layer. The ozone hole above the Antarctic has shrunk by more than 4 million square kilometers — about half the area of the contiguous United States — since 2000, when ozone depletion was at its peak.
The Montreal Protocol could be just as successful at reducing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - chemicals used to replace ozone depleting substances in air-conditioners and refrigeration systems but which have since been found to have a global warming potential 100's to 1000's times that of carbon dioxide.
In his message to celebrate International Ozone Day, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon said "we must turn ambition into action, and strengthen climate protection by harnessing the power of the Montreal Protocol to make progress in slowing the near-term warming caused by HFCs, the fastest growing of the greenhouse gases."
In a video message UN Environment Chief, Erik Solheim, said that the Montreal Protocol was an example of the world coming together to solve an environmental crisis. Leaders didn't just talk "but they walked the talk, and today we can safely say that every government on the entire planet has implemented the protocol and we have been able to phase out [ozone depleting] gases".