Earth’s ozone layer finally healing, says UN

The banning of CFCs has helped to repair the ozone hole above Antarctica

These unsafe substances were tearing a hole in the ozone layer, and if not improved, could lead to dangers ultraviolet radiation exposure to animals, humans, and plants.

The four-yearly review of the Montreal Protocol, a 1987 ban on man-made gases that damage the fragile high-altitude ozone layer, found long-term decreases in the atmospheric abundance of controlled ozone-depleting substances and the ongoing recovery of stratospheric ozone.

According to a United Nations report, the upper layer of ozone over the northern hemisphere will be repaired by 2030, and the damage over the southern hemisphere will be back to normal by the middle of the century.

'If ozone-depleting substances had continued to increase, we would have seen huge effects.

The ozone layer is a layer of the atmosphere which sits about 10 kilometres above the Earth's surface and protects life from ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.

The researchers put the restrengthening of the ozone layer down to the 1987 Montreal Protocol which was an worldwide treaty that banned chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which were found to be weakening the atmospheric layer.

The scientific assessment, released at a conference in Ecuador today, was described as "really good news" by Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center. Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment Programme, said, "The careful mix of authoritative science and collaborative action that has defined the Protocol for more than 30 years and was set to heal our ozone layer is precisely why the Kigali Amendment holds such promise for climate action in future".

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This is due to internationally agreed actions carried out under the historic Montreal Protocol, which came into being over 30 years ago. The 2018 edition shows that ozone levels in sections of the stratosphere have been recovering at rates of 1-3 percent since 2000. Writers of the report said if this amendment is ratified, Earth can avoid up to 0.4 percent of global warming in the 21st century.

This year, the ozone hole over the South Pole peaked at almost 9.6 million square miles - which is still about 16% smaller than the biggest hole recorded.

"We are only at a point where recovery may have started", Toon said, pointing to some ozone measurements that haven't increased yet.

However, while most of the banned damaging gases have been phased out, the study found at least one violation - having spotting that production and emission of CFC-11 unexpected increased in eastern Asia since 2012.

The Protocol is set to be strengthened in 2019 with the ratification of the Kigali Amendment which calls for the future use of powerful climate-warming gases in refrigerators, air conditioners and related products to be slashed.

"I don't think we can do a victory lap until 2060", Newman told AP.

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