"Since WMO sounding balloons revealed in the 1950ies that the ozone layer was getting thinner, there have been numerous victories in the struggle against pollutants, such as the Vienna Convention in 1985, the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and its amendments.
Nevertheless, the battle to repair the ozone layer is far from over", says the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Prof. Obasi, on the occasion of today's International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.
"Scientists predict that the ozone layer will remain particularly vulnerable during the next decade or so, even with full compliance with the measures put in place by the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol to control and phase-out ozone-depleting gases", Obasi warns.
"Failure to comply with the Montreal Protocol and its amendments would significantly delay or even prevent the ozone layer's future recovery jeopardizing, among others, public health."
Ultra-violet rays emitted by the sun reach the earth and increase the risk of eye damage and skin cancer.
Recent scientific assessments carried out by WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded that the Montreal Protocol is working; its effectiveness is shown by the slow decline of chlorine-containing CFC's in the lower atmosphere after the 1992-1994 peak.
Nevertheless, other ozone-depleting gases such as bromine from industrial halons and the CFC substitutes hydrofluorocarbons (HFC's) and HCFC's are still on the increase.
Approaches to accelerating ozone layer recovery are limited. The total atmospheric abundance of ozone- depleting agents will decline to pre-Antarctic ozone-hole amounts only with adherence to the Montreal Protocol's full provisions on production of ozone-depleting gases.
Another finding of the WMO/UNEP scientific assessment is that ozone depletion and climate change are interconnected.
Ozone depletion and greenhouse warming share many common chemical and physical processes. As the atmospheric CFC's decline due to the Montreal Protocol provisions, their greenhouse-warming contributions will decline as well.
On the other hand, the use of CFC substitutes HFC's and HCFC's would cause the greenhouse-warming contributions of these new compounds to increase.
Global observations of these gases as well as of hydrogen fluoride (HF) confirm that these contributions are currently increasing. Because ozone depletion acts to cool the climate system, future recovery of the ozone layer would tend to warm the climate system.
Assessment of Ozone Depletion: Summary 2002 Report (PDF)
World Meteorological Organization
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Humanity Tries to Mend Ozone Layer
Geneva (IPS) Sep 16, 2002
Readings of the lower atmosphere show that ozone-depleting substances continue their slow decline since reaching a peak in the 1992-1994 period, proving that policies to control certain human activities are having the desired effect, says the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
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