Ozone Hole Current Affairs - 2020

Phase Out of Ozone Depleting Chemicals achieved by India

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (EFoCC) recently announced that India has achieved the complete phase out of ozone depleting Hydro Chloro Fluoro Carbons (HCFC). The achievement has its route to the Montreal Protocol

Highlights

In order to move towards environment friendly technologies, the Ministry of EFoCC prohibited import of HCFC-141b. The order was issued according to Ozone Depleting substances (Regulation and Control) amendment rules, 2019. The rules were issued under Environment (Protection) act, 1986.

The use of HCFC-141b by foam manufacturing industries have been come to an end with the stoppage of import of HCFC-141b. This is because, HCFC-141b is not produced in India. The domestic requirements of HCFC-141b so far had been met through imports.

Benefits

The phase out of HCFC-141b will help in healing the ozone layer in the stratospheric zone. Also, it will help in climate change mitigation as the industries dependent on HCFC for foam production will be forced to work on alternative technologies that contribute to lesser global warming.

Impacts

The step will have great impact on ozone layer. This is because around 50% of ozone depleting chemicals being used in the country attribute to HCFC-141b.

On the other hand, polyurethane dependent sectors will face dents. HCFC is used as blowing agent in the production of polyurethane foams. Polyurethane is used in applications such as water geysers, refrigerators, thermo wares, furniture appliance, commercial refrigeration.

Govt measures to reduce impacts

The after effect of the phase out will greatly affect the MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises). In order to prevent this, the Ozone Cell of Ministry of EFoCC had signed agreements with Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technologies to find alternate technologies. Assistance is being provide to field trails, training and product validation.

Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol was signed by 190 countries in 1987 to phase out Ozone Depleting Substances. In order to achieve this, India in 2017 launched a phase out plan. Though the target of the plan was 2023, India achieved the goal far ahead of the deadline.

Ozone Hole: Smallest on record

NASA reported that ozone hole near south pole is in its smallest size since it was discovered. In 2006, the hole was 10.3 million square miles. However, recently it has reduced to 3.6 million square miles. Scientists say that the hole is smaller than it was found in 1985.

Every year, the ozone hole reaches its peak in September and October and disappears by late December.

Significance

Earth’s ozone layer shields life from harmful solar radiation. The man-made chlorine compounds that can last in air for 100 years nibbled at the Ozone particles. This led to thinning of the Ozone layer in the Southern Hemisphere.

After it was found in 1985, the International Montreal Protocol was framed in 1987. It is the only protocol ratified at the United Nations that bans chlorine compounds in refrigerators and aerosols.

Unfortunately, the reason for the reduction of ozone hole is not the steps to reduce the usage of chlorine compounds. It is because of climate change.

Climate Change-a Reason

Chlorine in air requires cold temperatures in stratosphere to form chemical clouds that actually react with ozone. The clouds now go away as they are being warmed up due to elevated temperatures. The temperatures were 29 degrees warmer than the average. The winds dropped from 161 miles per hour to 67 miles per hour.

Though Climate change is the sole reason, it is being hastened by global warming. The Southern Polar Vortex just like the northern one started to break down. This is the main reason for the sudden and huge reduction in ozone hole.