Scientists said Monday that the protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere could be restored within several decades.
In a United Nations-sponsored assessment, the scientists said that global emissions of a banned chemical that has been used as a cooling agent and in insulation foams had fallen since last year. chlorofluorocarbons and similar chemicals destroy ozone, which blocks ultraviolet radiation from the sun that can cause skin cancer and other harmful effects.
Ozone levels between the polar regions should reach pre- 1980 levels by the year 2040 if current policies are not changed. The ozone holes that appear frequently near the South Pole and less frequently near the North Pole should recover by 2045 and 2064, respectively.
One of the report's authors said that things continue to trend in the right direction. According to a study led by Dr. Montzka, emissions from East Asia appear to be the reason for the increase in emissions.
According to investigations by The New York Times, small factories in Eastern China were to blame for ignoring the global ban.
TheMontreal Protocol was negotiated in the 1980s to phase out the use of chlorofluorocarbons in favor of more benign chemicals after it was discovered that chlorofluorocarbons were degrading atmospheric ozone.
The head of the United Nations Environment Program called illegal production of CFC-11 a "environmental crime" at the time. The ozone layer could be delayed by a decade if rogue emissions continue.
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The decline in emissions was a sign that the Chinese government was cracking down on the new production of HCFC-11. The report said the ozone layer might not recover by a year.
The Chinese CFC-11 was used to make foam. Some of the CFC-11 escapes into the atmosphere, where it can be detected and measured, but most of it is contained within the foam.
The Chinese production of chlorofluorocarbons contributed to the "banks" of chlorofluorocarbons that were produced worldwide before the ban went into effect. The existing chemicals are being released slowly through foam degradation and other means, even though they are not yet in the atmosphere.
The size of the Chinese contribution to the banks is unknown. If the banks have been built up a lot, that would add a few more years to the expected delay in recovery.
The elimination of rogue emissions is an example of the success of the protocol, which is considered to be the most effective global environmental pact ever enacted, according to Durwood Zaelke.
The problem was detected by atmospheric monitoring and brought to the attention of the treaty's directorate. The parties got their act together without admitting guilt. The measurement are where they should be.
The protocol requires assessments to be done at least every four years. Researchers with NASA, the World Meteorology Organization, the United Nations Environment Program and the European Commission contributed to the project.
The first assessment to consider the effects on ozone of a potential type of climate intervention was done. The method would use airplanes or other means to distribute sulfur aerosols high in the atmosphere, where they would reflect some of the sun's rays before they reach the surface.
The idea is opposed by a lot of people. Opponents argue that intervening in the climate in this way could have dire consequences. Warming may reach a point where the world becomes desperate to try such an intervention technique, possibly temporarily to buy time before greenhouse gas reductions can have a significant effect.
The assessment team was given the task of looking into the effects of ozone on sulfur aerosols after some studies showed an impact on ozone.
He said the protocol protects the ozone layer and has done a good job of dealing with ozone-depleting substances. He said that looking at the aerosol injection was in the wheelhouse.
The basic message is that trying to cool the planet by half a degree Celsius would have an effect on ozone. He said that it won't destroy the ozone layer.
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 created an aerosol haze similar to ageoengineering.
The planet was briefly cooled by the eruption. The ozone layer didn't fall. He stated that it has resilience.