The ozone layer is healing – there is hope for climate change

It has been over 30 years since all countries of the United National agreed to phase out ozone depleting substances. Since that landmark agreement was signed we have evidence that the ozone layer is healing. 

The 16 September is World Ozone Day, and the progress we have made should be celebrated. 

It is projected that the Northern Hemisphere ozone will be healed by the 2030s, Southern Hemisphere ozone by the 2050s, and Polar Regions by 2060.  

It was in the late 1980s, that all 197 United Nations member countries ratified the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer. While there is still work to be done and we must remain vigilant to ensure illegal sources of ozone depleting substances are addressed before they arise, the Montreal Protocol gives us reason for hope. 

At a climate change crossroads

In the 1980s the world was faced with a choice – to protect the ozone or suffer the detrimental consequences of increased radiation from the sun reaching earth’s surface.  We chose to take action.   

Years later we find ourselves at another international crossroads. This time around climate change. 

We are faced with a choice. Do we join collectively to take real and meaningful action or not?

One hundred and eighty five countries (of a total 197 member countries) have ratified the Paris Agreement which was made under the United Nations Climate Change Convention.  Under the agreement countries have developed Nationally Determined Contributions that set out their plan for addressing climate change, a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and how they intend to achieve the target.

Despite some of the controversy surrounding the Paris Agreement, most of the world is on board to take action against climate change.  The challenge now is how much action will we take?

The Nationally Determined Contributions of countries all vary and there is criticism that some countries targets do not go far enough to address climate change.  There is also criticism that countries are using counting loopholes to meet their targets without effecting real change in emissions.  

To monitor how countries are progressing, research organisations have created the Climate Action Tracker. This independent analysis has been tracking action against climate change since 2009.

Under the Paris agreement, the global commitment is to keep warming levels well below 2.0oC, and pursue efforts to keep warming below 1.5oC. The Climate Action Tracker shows that we are not on track to meet that target. It is clear that we need to do more to meet the challenge of climate change. 

The crossroads we now face is whether governments will look beyond powerful lobby groups and short term election cycles and show real leadership to combat climate change. 

Why we take action

Our international efforts to protect the ozone layer have shown that we can work together to achieve great things.

The research has told us what the problems are and the innovative solutions we need to address climate change already exist. All that’s required now is for a critical mass of people to demand action, and governments will have to act.

How we can take action

We need to continue to pressure governments to commit to and deliver real and meaningful action against climate change.

  • Get in touch with your elected officials and let them know you expect them to show real leadership in the face of climate change.
  • Take to the streets and join a protest near you such as the Student Strike 4 Climate.
  • Join or donate to organisations that are protecting our natural environments.
  • Talk to your friends and family about why you think addressing climate change is important and what action you are taking – they might like to get involved too. 

United Nations. International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, 16 September. Retrieved from www.un.org/en/events/ozoneday/index.shtml

United Nations Climate Change. The Paris Agreement. Retrieved from unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement