Mr. Ban’s Optimism: ‘Ozone Layer on Track to Recover over Next 50 Years!’


Human Wrongs Watch

Despite so many specialized reports (see section Read Also*, below)–some of them elaborated by the world body he leads, the UN Secretary-General is optimistic! In fact he has just “hailed” the efforts of the international community in “protecting the atmosphere, noting that with the global phase-out of 98 per cent of ozone-depleting gases, the ozone layer is now on track to recover over the next five decades.”

Photo: United Nations

“I urge Governments and all partners to apply the same spirit to the other great environment and development challenges of our times. Together, we can achieve the future we want,” Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, observed annually on 16 September.

The Day commemorates the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which aims 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,” the UN reported.

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 Protocol 25 Years After

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Protocol, which according to Ban “is not merely a success in meeting its immediate objectives, it offers substantive lessons and inspiration in addressing other global challenges and turning them into opportunities for common progress.”

“Millions of cases of skin cancer and eye cataracts, as well as the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation on the environment, have already been avoided,” he noted.

The Protocol has also catalyzed considerable innovation in the chemical and equipment manufacturing industry, resulting in more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly refrigeration systems.

He said action under the Protocol has also had significant climate benefits. Many of these substances have been phased out, such as chlorofluorocarbons once used in products such as hairsprays, which are significant greenhouse gases.

Challenges Not Over

“Nonetheless, the challenges are not over,” said Ban. “Governments must maintain their commitment to finish the job and avert additional problems. The use of hydrofluorocarbons – ozone-friendly chemicals that are also powerful greenhouse gases – is growing rapidly to replace ozone-depleting substances.

“The Montreal Protocol has demonstrated that fundamental principles – such as science-based policy making, the precautionary approach, common but differentiated responsibilities and equity within and between generations – can benefit all nations.”

Less than a year ago, the UN warned in a report that “more than two million lives can be saved each year by implementing the cost-effective measures.”

The report says that such measure would help reduce black carbon, methane and ozone emissions.

The UN 16 Measure to Save 2.5 Million Lives… Each Year

The report, issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), provides a package of 16 measures that could not only save some 2.5 million lives each year but also avoid crop losses amounting to 32 million tons annually, and help keep the global temperature rise below the two degree Celsius target over the next 40 years.

The measures target emissions of black carbon, methane and ground-level ozone, also known as short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs), and their implementation would allow countries to save rather than spend resources and money, the UN said.

“This is in part because a lot of measures allow for gases to be harvested as a source of clean fuel.report warns that quick and decisive action from governments is needed so that the measures can have an impact before it is too late.”

Suggested measures include cutting black carbon emissions by replacing inefficient cook stoves and brick ovens, which would cut fuel costs for households and oven operators, and upgrading wastewater treatment works to reduce methane emissions and improve sanitation and water quality.

Quick, Decisive Action Needed

But the report warns that quick and decisive action from governments is needed so that the measures can have an impact before it is too late.

Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director said the report provides the analysis on SLCFs that governments require “to achieve some remarkable gains in terms of a transition to a low-emission, resource-efficient green economy over the near term.”

Steiner stressed that different countries could take advantage of the measures in various ways.

“For some countries the most important benefits result from cost-effective improvements in air pollution and reduced illness and loss of life – black carbon, for example, could be controlled under national and regional air quality agreements,” he said.

“Other countries are also recognizing the food security benefits in terms of reduced crop damage in a world of seven billion people.

Four Categories, Based on Cost

The 16 measures identified in the report are divided into four categories, based on their cost. All of them have been tried and tested to varying levels in different countries, allowing for expansion and adaptation in new regions.

For example, most European countries have already banned the burning of agricultural wastes, and more efficient cook stoves are being introduced in West Africa, China and India, providing an opportunity to introduce and spread these technologies to other countries.

The report also outlines national, regional and global actions that can accelerate the reduction of SLCFs. At a national level it outlines strategies that range from tax incentives and regulation to public education and subsidies or loans to switch to more efficient technologies.

Recommendations at a regional and global level include controlling pollutants such as black carbon under regional air quality agreements, and supporting international treaties, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which took place in November last year in Durban, South Africa.

*Read Also:

Arctic Oil – The Catastrophic Impact of Drilling, Oil Spills, Accidents

Melting Arctic in a ‘Death Spiral’ – Oil Rush, Industrial Fishing, Conflicts

Arctic Sea Ice at Record Low – Report

Ice in Arctic Disappearing Far Greater Than Predicted

Greenland’s Mineral Rush ‘Could Lead to Independence’ from Denmark

Criminal Gangs Steel Ice from Glaciers

World Bank and Giant Corporations Allied to Privatize Water Worldwide

‘Be Prepared for a Huge Urbanization Process – It’s Like a Tsunami’

Urban Population in 2050: 1.2 Billion in Africa, 3.3 Billion in Asia

Eighty Per Cent of World’s Forests Degraded, Destroyed

Millions of Urban Children at High Risk of Violence, Exploitation and Trafficking

World Youth: No Jobs, No Education; Big Frustration, Scare

Africa’s Rapid Urbanisation – Magnet of Hope or Misery Time Bomb?

‘How KFC Is Junking the Jungle’

God, What a Future!

‘Governments Spend $1.4 Billion Per Day to Destabilize Climate’

Politicians Promote Fossil Fuels with Half a Trillion Dollars a Year

Save The Planet? Just Eat Cars, Drink Fuel!

Big Business Suffocating Our Lungs

Be Prepared to Face Water Shocks!

No Water in Many Parts of the World in Only 40 Years

Demand for Life’s Essentials: 50% More Food, 40% More Energy and… 35% More Water

World’s Oceans Depleted, Destroyed … Killed

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2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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