As the world marks World Ozone Day, 16 September, the United Nations has stated that the ozone layer – the thin layer that protects the world from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun – is recovering.
Although the ‘ozone hole’ above Antarctica this year is bigger than anticipated (and despite a recent discovery of another Ozone hole), the UN expects the protective ozone layer to recover to pre-1980 levels over the next 50 years, if the world sticks to goals set in international treaties.
Thanks to these treaties, the amount of ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere is falling.
International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
World Ozone Day celebrates the fact that 35 years ago, the countries of the world came together to end one of the biggest threats to life on Earth: the depletion of the ozone layer.
There were just a few short years between scientists discovering the life-threatening problem of ozone depletion and the entry into force of an international treaty phasing out ozone depleting substances. Since then, the reduction in pollution has not only helped protect the ozone layer, but also contributed to global efforts to address climate change.
World Ozone Day, held on 16 September each year, celebrates this achievement, and it reminds us that it takes collective decisions, international action and behaviour change to solve major global crises.
What is Ozone?
Ozone is a pale blue gas composed of three oxygen atoms bonded together. It occurs naturally high up in the Earth’s atmosphere, where it protects the surface from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
The ozone layer is one layer of the stratosphere, the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.
This thin layer absorbs some of the sun’s radiation hitting the Earth, protecting the planet’s surface from the high energy ultraviolet rays.
What is the Montreal Protocol?
The 1987 ‘Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer’ is a landmark agreement that has successfully reduced the global production, consumption, and emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs). ODSs are also greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
In 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 16 September 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 (resolution 49/114).
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 on the basis of developments in scientific knowledge and technological information.
The theme for the 2022 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is “Montreal Protocol @ 35: global cooperation protecting life on earth.” The theme recognises the wider impact the Montreal Protocol has had on climate change and the need for international cooperation and partnerships to address climate challenges.