By Nuel Navarrete
The global ozone, especially over the Arctic and Antarctic regions, are no longer deteriorating.
Global efforts to save the ozone layer have successfully stopped further ozone depletion and eased the heat-trapping effect of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization.
The Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2010 evaluates how climate change affects the ozone layer as well as assesses the impact of ozone changes on the global climate.
The report reaffirms that the Montreal Protocol has prevented further ozone losses by prohibiting the production and use of ozone-depleting chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons. Indirectly, this action was able to reduce ozone-depleting greenhouse gases five times more than what the Kyoto Protocol has targeted from 2008 to 2012.
As a result, the global ozone, especially over the Arctic and Antarctic regions, are no longer deteriorating, although ozone recovery has yet to begin. It might take until the middle of the century for the ozone layer over the Polar regions to recover to pre-1980 levels, the report predicts.
Meanwhile, hydrochlorofluorocarbon emissions are increasing faster nowadays. For example, hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22 (HCFC-22) emissions grew more than 50 percent faster from 2007 to 2008 than from 2003 to 2004.
Alarmingly, HFC-23 emissions, a byproduct of HCFC-22 production, are also rising by 8 percent annually. This substance is 14,000 times more potent in trapping heat than carbon dioxide.
However, the study expects emissions to drop over the next 10 years because of initiatives under the Montreal Protocol.
"This represents a further potential area for action within the overall climate change challenge,” said Achim Steiner, United Nations undersecretary and executive director of UNEP.
"The ozone-hole issue demonstrates the importance of long-term atmospheric monitoring and research, without which ozone destruction would have continued unabated and might not have been detected until more serious damage was evident," noted Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization.