Context: A recent United Nations scientific assessment report has suggested that the ozone hole is now expected to be completely repaired by 2066.
About Ozone Layer:
- The ozone layer is a layer of the stratosphere, the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere.
- The stratosphere is the mass of protective gases clinging to our planet.
- The Ozone layer is present in Earth’s atmosphere (15-35 km above Earth) in the lower portion of the stratosphere and has relatively high concentrations of ozone (O3).
- The ozone layer normally develops when a few kinds of electrical discharge or radiation splits the 2 atoms in an oxygen(O2) molecule, which then independently reunite with other types of molecules to form ozone.
- Ozone is only a trace gas in the atmosphere – only about 3 molecules for every 10 million molecules of air.
- It is critical for planetary life, since it absorbs ultraviolet rays coming from the Sun.
- UV rays are known to cause skin cancer and many other diseases and deformities in plants and animals.
Important outcomes of the Report:
Major achievements of the Montreal Protocol:
- Actions taken under the Montreal Protocol continued to decrease atmospheric abundances of controlled ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) and advance the recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer.
- The atmospheric abundances of both total tropospheric chlorine and total tropospheric bromine from long-lived ODSs have continued to decline since the 2018 Assessment.
- New studies support previous Assessments in that the decline in ODS emissions due to compliance with the Montreal Protocol avoids global warming of approximately 0.5 — 1 °C by mid-century compared to an extreme scenario with an uncontrolled increase in ODSs of 3 – 3.5% per year.
- Actions taken under the Montreal Protocol continue to contribute to ozone recovery.
- Recovery of ozone in the upper stratosphere is progressing.
- Total column ozone (TCO) in the Antarctic continues to recover, notwithstanding substantial interannual variability in the size, strength, and longevity of the ozone hole.
- TCO is expected to return to 1980 values around 2066 in the Antarctic, around 2045 in the Arctic, and around 2040 for the near-global average (60°N–60°S).
- Compliance with the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which requires phase down of production and consumption of some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), is estimated to avoid 0.3 – 0.5°C of warming by 2100.
About Montreal Protocol
- The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion.
- It was agreed on 16 September 1987, and entered into force on 1 January 1989.
- Since then, it has undergone nine revisions including the latest one in 2016 (Kigali).
- On 1 January 2019 the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol came into force.
- Under the Kigali Amendment countries promised to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by more than 80% over the next 30 years.
Future Policy Considerations under the protocol:
- If ODS feedstock emissions as currently estimated were to be eliminated in future years, the return of mid-latitude Equivalent Effective Stratospheric Chlorine (EESC) to 1980 abundances could be advanced by almost 4 years.
- Eliminating future emissions of methyl bromide (CH3Br) from quarantine and pre-shipment applications currently allowed by the Montreal Protocol would accelerate the return of mid-latitude EESC to 1980 abundances by two years.
- Emissions of anthropogenic very short-lived chlorine substances, dominated by dichloromethane (CH2Cl2), continue to grow and contribute to ozone depletion.
- A 3% reduction in anthropogenic N2O emissions, averaged over 2023–2070, would lead to an increase in annually averaged global TCO of about 0.5 DU over the same period.
- Global emissions of long-lived HFC-23, which are largely a by-product of HCFC-22 production, are as much as eight times larger than expected and are likely to grow unless abatement increases during HCFC-22 production or feedstock use of HCFC-22 decreases.
Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
- It is a Multilateral Environmental Agreement that was 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 acts as a framework for the international efforts to protect the ozone layer.
- These are laid out in the accompanying Montreal Protocol.
Concerns associated with depletion of Ozone layer:
- Replacements available: The use of ODSs, though extensive, was restricted to some specific industries.
- Their replacements were readily available, even if at a slightly higher cost initially.
- The impact of banning these ozone-depleting chemicals was therefore limited to these specific sectors.
- With some incentives, these sectors have recovered from the initial disruption and are thriving again.
- Carbon footprints: Emission of carbon dioxide is inextricably linked to the harnessing of energy.
- Almost every economic activity leads to carbon dioxide emissions. Even renewable energies, like solar or wind, have considerable carbon footprints right now, because their manufacturing, transport, and operation involves the use of fossil fuels.
- Greenhouse gas emissions: The emissions of methane, the other major greenhouse gas, comes mainly from agricultural practices and livestock.
- The impact of restraining greenhouse gas emissions is not limited to a few industries or economic sectors, but affects the entire economy, and also has implications for the quality of life, human lifestyles and habits and behaviours.
Govt of India’s Efforts and Achievements
- Montreal Protocol: India has played a proactive role in the phase-out of production and consumption of Ozone Depleting Substances.
- India phased out Chlorofluorocarbons, Carbon tetrachloride, Halons, Methyl Bromide and Methyl Chloroform for controlled uses as on 1 January 2010, in line with the Montreal Protocol schedule.
- India is among the countries which has stated that the country’s sustainable development will be such that net zero is achieved by 2070.
- Phasing out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons: Currently, Hydrochlorofluorocarbons are being phased out as per the accelerated schedule of the Montreal Protocol.
- Hydrochlorofluorocarbons Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) Stage – I has been successfully implemented from 2012 to 2016 and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) Stage – II is under implementation since 2017 and will be completed by 2023.
- Stage III of the HPMP, the last of the HPMPs to phase out remaining HCFCs, will be implemented from 2023 – 2030.
- The phase-out of HCFCs in all manufacturing sectors, comprising refrigeration and air-conditioning manufacturing sectors, will be completed by 1.1.2025 and the activities relating to the servicing sector will be continued till 2030.
- Kigali Amendment: India played a key role in the finalization of the Kigali Amendment.
- After ratifying the same in September 2021, the central government is working towards developing a national strategy, in close consultation with the industry stakeholders, for phasing down Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
- Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions: The study on reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through phase-out of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) was carried out by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
- It estimates that the reduction of GHG emissions due to phase-out of ODS till 2022 is 465 million tonne CO2 equivalent.
- It is expected that the reduction of GHG emissions till 2030 is expected to be 778 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
- India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP): The goal is to provide socio-economic and environmental benefits related to reduced refrigerant use, climate change mitigation and Sustainable Development Goals over the period 2037-38.
- This will significantly contribute to India’s climate action in achieving the net zero emissions by 2070, through the ‘Panchamrita’, committed by the Prime Minister of India, at the Climate Change Conference of Parties in 2021.
- Research and Development: The Environment Ministry will soon be entering into collaboration with eight Indian Institutes of Technology (Bombay, Roorkee, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Guwahati, Banaras, Madras and Delhi) to promote research and development of chemicals with low global warming potential, including blends.
The world is facing a climate crisis because of wasteful use of energy, calling for adopting the mantra of L.I.F.E (Lifestyle for Environment) which was coined by the Prime Minister of India. The mantra is in line with the concept of sustainable lifestyle, encouraging us to adopt mindful and not mindless consumption and utilization of resources.
Source: The Hindu