World Ozone Day 2023
The latest update from the Scientific Assessment Panel to the Montreal Protocol confirmed that ozone layer recovery is on track and ozone levels are expected to return to 1980 levels by around 2066 over the Antarctic.
By banning ozone-depleting substances and allowing the ozone layer to slowly recover, the treaty is also protecting millions of people from skin cancer and eye cataracts, safeguarding ecosystems and slowing down climate change – as many ozone-depleting substances were also climate warming gases.
However, the work and the benefits of the Montreal Protocol is far from over. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol aims to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – powerful climate-warming gases that replaced ozone-depleting substances in the cooling industry. Universal ratification of the Amendment and full implementation are crucial, for multiple reasons.
The planet is heating up, which increases the need for air-conditioning in homes, schools and workplaces. At the same time, expanding access to sustainable cold chain – to keep food fresh and vaccines viable – is essential to meet sustainable development aspirations. This growth in cooling must be sustainable, which means both finding safe and environmentally friendly alternatives to HFCs and increasing the energy efficiency of cooling equipment. By phasing down HFCs, the Kigali Amendment may result in avoidance of up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100. Implementing energy efficiency measures could potentially double this figure.
The conclusion is clear: for nearly 4 decades, the Montreal Protocol has been instrumental – and will continue to be instrumental – in protecting human health, nature and the climate.