A UN report finally shares good news in ongoing fight to reverse climate change

6 Nov 2018

Image: © punyafamily/Stock.adobe.com

Report after report has showed Earth is heading towards disaster, but a new UN report shows what even a small change can do to our ozone layer.

Last month’s release of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report sent shockwaves across the globe, highlighting how much damage an increase of two degrees Celsius would have on our planet.

Since then – and even before then, for that matter – we have heard countless reports documenting evidence of plastic pollution at an unprecedented scale, and how climate change could starve millions of people who rely on the common bean.

In a slight respite from the doom and gloom, a new UN-backed report is actually reporting some positive news, this time in relation to our ozone layer. The study, entitled Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion: 2018, is the latest in a series of reports filed every four years, monitoring the recovery of ozone in the stratosphere.

Incredibly, the report showed that parts of the stratosphere have recovered at a rate of between 1pc and 3pc since 2000. At projected rates, the northern hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone is scheduled to heal completely by the 2030s, followed by the southern hemisphere in the 2050s and polar regions by 2060.

What the future holds

The authors of the report said that this turnaround in fortunes is a direct result of the Montreal Protocol signed more than 30 years ago in response to the discovery that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – used in fridges, aerosols and other items – were tearing a hole in the ozone layer.

“The Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history for a reason,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

The report comes just a year before the ratification of the Kigali Agreement, which calls for even larger restrictions in gases related to climate change used in fridges, air conditioners and related products. “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,” Solheim added.

If the Kigali Agreement is followed to the letter, the authors of the report believe the world can avoid up to 0.4pc of global warming this century.

This report follows another study issued at the beginning of this year, which found the first direct proof that ozone depletion is in decline as a result of a CFC global ban.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic