International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer | 16 September 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 phaseout of controlled uses of ozone-depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer for this and future generations but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change; furthermore, it has protected human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth.
Montreal Protocol – keeping us, our food, and vaccines cool
The Montreal Protocol started life as a global agreement to protect the ozone layer, a job it has done well, making it one of the most successful environmental agreements to date. A united global effort to phase out ozone-depleting substances means that today, the hole in the ozone layer is healing, protecting human health, economies, and ecosystems. But, as this year’s World Ozone Day seeks to highlight, the Montreal Protocol does so much more – such as slowing climate change and helping to boost energy efficiency in the cooling sector, which contributes to food security.
The principal aim of the Montreal Protocol is to protect the ozone layer by taking measures to control the total global production and consumption of substances that deplete it, with the ultimate objective of their elimination based on developments in scientific knowledge and technological information. It is structured around several groups of ozone-depleting substances. The groups of chemicals are classified according to the chemical family and are listed in annexes to the Montreal Protocol text. The Protocol requires the control of nearly 100 chemicals in several categories. For each group or annex of chemicals, the Treaty sets out a timetable for the phaseout of production and consumption of those substances to eliminate them.
The timetable set by the Protocol applies to the consumption of ozone-depleting substances. Consumption is the quantities produced plus imported, less those quantities exported in any given year. There is also a deduction for verified destruction. Percentage reductions relate to the designated baseline year for the substance. The Protocol does not forbid using existing or recycled controlled substances beyond the phaseout dates.
There are a few exceptions for essential uses where no acceptable substitutes have been found, for example, in metered dose inhalers (MDI) commonly used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems or halon fire-suppression systems used in submarines and aircraft.
In 1994, the United Nations 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.
Implementation of the Montreal Protocol
Implementation of the Montreal Protocol progressed well in developed and developing countries. Most of the phaseout schedules were adhered to, some even ahead of schedule. Attention focused initially on chemicals with higher ozone-depletion potentials, including CFCs and halons. The phaseout schedule for HCFCs was more relaxed due to their lower ozone-depletion potentials and because they have also been used as transitional substitutes for CFCs.
The HCFC phaseout schedule was introduced in 1992 for developed and developing countries, with a freeze in 2015 and the final phaseout by 2030 in developed countries and 2040 in developing countries. In 2007, Parties to the Montreal Protocol decided to accelerate the HCFC phaseout schedule for developed and developing countries.
On 16 September 2009, the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol became the first treaties in the history of the United Nations to achieve universal ratification.
The Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer reached an agreement at their 28th Meeting of the Parties on 15 October 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).