World action has helped solve ozone hole problem
With all the depressing stories about climate change it is good to discover that human action can reverse a problem, said a green energy expert.
Ron Fox was commenting after a UN report said that the ozone layer would make a full recovery within 50 years after chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were banned globally under the Montreal Protocol of 1987.
“It is so encouraging to see that the world can all act together and help save the planet,” Ron, of Noreus Ltd (www.noreus.co.uk) on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.
In the 1980s Nasa scientists discovered huge holes in the atmosphere and identified CFCs, which were used in fridges, aerosol cans and dry-cleaning chemicals, as the main culprit.
They caused the fragile layer of gas, which acts as a shield by absorbing the sun’s ultraviolet rays and protecting and animal and plant life, was being weakened. This meant more UV rays were getting through, making humans more prone to skin cancer, cataracts and other diseases.
Now these restrictions are contributing to the slow “healing” of the ozone layer at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000, according to the report by the UN Environment Programme, World Meteorological Organisation, European Commission and other bodies.
At the recovery rates projected by the UN report, the northern hemisphere is scheduled to heal completely returning to its 1980s levels by the 2030s, followed by the southern hemisphere in the 2050s and polar regions by 2060.
Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, described the Montreal Protocol as “one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history.”
Paul Newman of Nasa, joint chairman of the report, said that two thirds of the ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2065 if nothing had been done to stop the thinning.
But he said there is still more work to be done as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the new super greenhouse gases manufactured as alternatives to ozone depleting substances, have turned out to be very damaging.
Although not as abundant in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the HFCs, used in refrigeration, air conditioning, foam blowing, aerosols, fire protection and solvents, have a global warming potential 1,000 to 3,000 times that of CO2
Their use has increased from almost nothing in 1990 to 1,100 million tonnes of the equivalent of CO2 in 2010, accounting for around 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
A new amendment to the Montreal Protocol, was signed on October 15 this year which will address the impact of HFCs, by getting developed countries to begin reducing their use in 2019.
“But although all this is good news, the changes required to curb the worse impacts of climate change are more formidable,” added Ron. “Now everyone needs to act together to cut back on burning fossil fuels, clearing up plastic in the oceans, and switching to wind and solar power as well as improving the insulation in their homes to reduce energy use.”
Any residents wanting more advice on green energy and insulation should call Ron on 0845 474 6641.