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International Day for Preservation of Ozone Layer, focus on environmental issue

By Bisola Adeyemo

United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 16 September as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

World Ozone Day offers an opportunity to focus global attention and action on this vital environmental issue.

According to this year theme, “Montreal Protocol – Keeping us, our food and vaccines cool”.

The Montreal Protocol started life as a global agreement to protect the ozone layer, a job it has done well, making it one of the most successful environmental agreements to date. A united global effort to phase out ozone-depleting substances means that today, the hole in the ozone layer is healing, in turn protecting human health, economies and ecosystems. But, as this year’s World Ozone Day seeks to highlight, the Montreal Protocol does so much more such as slowing climate change and helping to boost energy efficiency in the cooling sector, which contributes to food security.

According to an article from the United Nation site, the principal aim of the Montreal Protocol is to protect the ozone layer by taking measures to control total global production and consumption of substances that deplete it, with the ultimate objective of their elimination based on developments in scientific knowledge and technological information.

The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.

The phaseout of controlled uses of ozone-depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer for this and future generations but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change; furthermore, it has protected human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth.

The ozone layer is the common term for the high concentration of ozone that is found in the stratosphere around 15–30km above the earth’s surface. It covers the entire planet and protects life on earth by absorbing harmful ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation from the sun.

About forty years ago, scientists around the world warned that a hole in the layer of ozone surrounding the earth could have serious effects on human health and the environment. This problem is being solved through a global agreement to stop the use of ozone-depleting chemicals that damage the ozone layer. But now scientists are concerned that the substances used to replace these ozone-depleting chemicals are acting to trap heat inside the earth, exacerbating the greenhouse effect.

To halt the depletion of the ozone layer, countries around the world agreed to stop using ozone-depleting substances. This agreement was formalised in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985 and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987.

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