By Miloš van den Bosch, age 11 and IndyKids staff
A U.N. report published in January on the Montreal Protocol announced that the hole in the ozone layer is on track to recover by 2040. The continent-sized hole was first discovered above the Antarctic by British Antarctic Survey meteorologists. Due to the work of the Montreal Protocol, which has successfully phased out 99% of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), the ozone layer is now recuperating.
The ozone layer is a protective shield in the stratosphere that protects animals and humans from harmful ultraviolet rays. These rays can damage our ecosystems, wildlife and crops and can cause eye damage and skin cancer in humans.
The hole was first discovered in 1985, and in 1987 an environmental agreement called the Montreal Protocol was created to try and reverse the damage. The protocol bans the use of harmful human-made chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons, a known ODS frequently used in products like aerosol sprays.
The U.N. report concluded that because of the success of the Montreal Protocol, it is predicted that the ozone layer will recover in most places to its 1980 values by 2040 and will recover in Antarctica by 2066 and in the Arctic by 2045. The protocol has also helped efforts to reduce climate change by helping us to avoid global warming by 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit, the U.N. report stated. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres tweeted following the release of the report that the restoration of the ozone layer is “an encouraging example of what the world can achieve when we work together.”
Successes like the Montreal Protocol set a precedent for climate action, explained World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in the report. “Our success in phasing out ozone-eating chemicals shows us what can and must be done—as a matter of urgency—to transition away from fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gases and limit temperature increase.”