Rare good news for the planet: the ozone layer is on track to recover within decades with the phasing out of chemicals



CNN

In rare good news for the planet, Earth’s ozone layer is set to fully recover within decades as ozone-depleting chemicals are phased out around the world, according to a new assessment supported by the United Nations.

The ozone layer protects the planet from harmful ultraviolet rays. But since the late 1980s, scientists have been sounding the alarm about a hole in that shield, caused by ozone-depleting substances, including chlorofluorocarbons, called CFCs, often found in refrigerators, aerosols and solvents.

International cooperation helped stem the damage. The use of CFCs has fallen by 99% since the entry into force of the Montreal Protocol in 1989, which began the elimination of these substances and other chemicals harmful to the ozone layer, according to the assessment of a group of experts published on Monday.

If global policies remain in place, the ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980 levels by 2040 for most of the world, according to the assessment. For polar areas, the cooldown is longer: 2045 in the Arctic and 2066 in the Antarctic.

“Action against ozone sets a precedent for climate action. Our success in phasing out ozone-eating chemicals shows us what can and must be done – urgently – to move away from fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gases and thus limit the increase in temperature,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary General Petteri. Taalas.

Ozone-depleting gases are also potent greenhouse gases, and without a ban the world could have seen additional warming of up to 1 degree Celsius, according to a 2021 study in the journal Nature. The planet has already warmed by around 1.2 degrees since the industrial revolution, and scientists have warned it should be limited to 1.5 degrees to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. Warming beyond 1.5 degrees would dramatically increase the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages, scientists have reported.

For the first time in this assessment, which is published every four years, scientists also looked at the prospect of solar geoengineering: the attempt to reduce global warming through measures such as spraying aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight out of the Earth’s atmosphere.

They found that injecting stratospheric aerosols could help reduce global warming, but warned there could be unintended consequences. Deployment of the technology “could also affect stratospheric temperatures, circulation and rates of ozone production and destruction, and transportation,” according to the report, released every four years.

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