Ozone Hole Current Affairs - 2019
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According to a recent research published in journal Nature, China continues to use the banned ozone depleting chemical called CFC-11 in violation of Montreal Protocol.
Key Findings of Report
- Despite being a signatory to Montreal Protocol, and agreeing to phase out the production of harmful CFC-11 in 2010, China continues to emit ozone depleting CFC-11 in violation of Montreal Protocol.
- Suspicion: An initial study about a year ago reported new global emissions of CFC-11 gas, which many scientists, environmental groups and policymakers had suspected but were only able to locate source generally as East Asia.
- Confirmation: New findings by international team of researchers confirmed about suspected region and claimed that emissions of ozone layer harming gas are coming from eastern China, primarily from its two heavily industrialised provinces namely Shandong province and Hebei province. These two provinces originate between 40% and 60 % of total global CFC-11 emissions from Eastern China.
- Highlights: In years between 2008 and 2012, eastern China emitted an average of about 6,400 metric tonnes (MT) of CFC-11 per year, the emissions increased by 25% in 2012 and since 2013 CFC-11 emissions were on rise. This number then increased to an average of about 13,400 metric tonnes (MT) of CFC-11 per year in years between 2014 and 2017.
- Reasons: China has world’s largest polyurethane foam market which accounts for about 40 % of world’s total consumption. The Chinese foam manufacturers have been using CFC-11 illegally to save on higher cost of alternatives like hydrochloro-fluorocarbons named HCFC-141b, which is supposed to be phased out in China by 2026. The research also found evidence that factories in Shandong province were still making and using gas to manufacture foam insulation.
- Significance: The new research findings will add to international pressure on Chinese government to curtail the illegal use of CFC-11.
- It is also called as freon-11, Trichlorofluoromethane or R-11.
- It is one of a class of compounds called chlorofluorocarbons that is responsible for destroying atmospheric ozone.
- It is also a potent greenhouse gases (GHG) that contributes to atmospheric warming.
- Before being included in production moratorium agreed in the Montreal Protocol of 1987 it was widely being used as a refrigerant.
About Montreal Protocol
- It is a legally binding international pact signed in 1987 to preserve degradation of atmospheric ozone layer that blocks harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sun. Excessive amounts of some types of UV radiation can cause eye damage and skin cancer in people and are also harmful to crops and vegetation.
- The protocol prescribe that consumption and production of compounds that deplete ozone (03) such as halons, carbon tetrachloride, stratosphere-chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and methyl chloroform-are to be phased out by 2000 (2005 for methyl chloroform).
- According to World Meteorological Organization (WMO), hole in ozone layer is on path of recovery and reduction in atmospheric concentration of CFC-11 has made second-largest contribution to its decline since 1990s.
The International Day for Preservation of Ozone Layer (or World Ozone Day) is observed every year on September 16 for the preservation of the Ozone Layer. This year, the theme for the Day is ‘Keep Cool and Carry On: The Montreal Protocol’. The day was designated by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 19, 1994. Its observance commemorates the date in 1987 on which Montreal Protocol was signed on substances that deplete the ozone layer. It also is intended to spread awareness of the depletion of the Ozone Layer and search for solutions to preserve it.
The Ozone layer is fragile shield of gas which protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation of Sun and thus helping preserve life on the planet. It contains high concentrations of ozone (O3) in relation to other parts of the atmosphere. Stratospheric Ozone is not harmful, but its presence on land it is harmful. Substances like Chlorofluorocarbons, halons, Carbontetrachloride are responsible for ozone layer depletion.
It is an international treaty designed to protect ozone layer by phasing out production of numerous Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) that are responsible for ozone depletion. It was agreed on 26 August 1987 in Montreal, Canada and entered into force on 26 August 1989. It was followed by a first meeting in Helsinki, May 1989. Under it production and consumption of key ODSs like chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs), Methyl Chloroform, CTC halons and Methyl Bromide have been phased-out globally. It is legally binding on member countries. has been ratified by 197 parties making it universally ratified protocol in UN history. It is also highly successful international arrangement, as it has phased-out more than 95% of the ODS so far as per its main mandate in less than 30 years of its existence. It has helped in recovering the ozone hole in Antarctica.
Vienna Convention for Protection of the Ozone Layer
It is multilateral environmental agreement agreed upon at the 1985 Vienna Conference and entered into force in 1988. It is one of the most successful treaties of all time in terms of universality. It has been ratified by 197 states (all UN members as well as the Niue, Holy See and the Cook Islands) as well as European Union. It acted as framework for international efforts to protect fragile ozone layer. These are laid out in accompanying Montreal Protocol. However, it does not include legally binding reduction goals for the use of CFCs, the main chemical agents causing ozone depletion.