World Ozone Day: Theme, significance of preservation of ozone layer

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New Delhi (NVI): The international community is today observing the World Ozone Day (WOD) marking the 35 years of the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer.

This year’s theme for the World Ozone Day 2020 is “Ozone for life: 35 years of ozone layer protection”.

The year 2020 has been one of many catastrophes, from a global pandemic, natural disasters, raging fires that wreaked havoc with the environment. The importance of preserving and restoring our environment has never been more significant. In order to not add complications in the ozone layer to the list, we must all do our parts for the preservation of the stratospheric layer.

Simply put, life on Earth will not be possible without sunlight, but the energy emanating from the sun is too harmful for anything to survive, when in direct contact with it. The ozone layer is a stratospheric layer that acts as a shield for the earth, protecting it from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

The ultraviolet radiation or UV rays emitted by the sun have the potential to cause skin cancer and cataract. These harmful rays also cause significant damage not only to humans but also to plant and marine life.

In 1970, when scientists first discovered the hole in the ozone layer, it was a matter of grave concern. They raised the alarm and informed people on how to best reduce their carbon emissions which are the leading cause for harm to the ozone layer.

With this in mind, the world’s governments banded together and formed the Vienna Convention in 1985. Under the convention, they established the Montreal Protocol which dictated that governments, scientists, and industries work together and cut out 99% of all ozone-depleting substances.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the ozone layer is recovering and expected to return to pre-1980 values by mid-century all thanks to the Montreal Protocol.

Meanwhile, supporting the Montreal Protocol, the Kigali Amendment, which came into force in 2019, will work towards reducing hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) and greenhouse gases that have climate-warming potential and are damaging to the environment.

Inger Anderson, Executive Director of UNEP, said, “This convention and its Montreal Protocol united the world to cut out the gases creating a hole in the planet’s ozone layer, critical in shielding us against deadly UV radiation. This model of international cooperation has put the ozone layer on the road to recovery, protecting human and ecosystem health. Such cooperation demonstrates that when people work together, they can fix problems on a global scale.”

“We need this unity of purpose more than ever, as we seek to address nature loss, climate change and pollution in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the discussions on the replenishment of the multilateral fund,” she added.