- Two international organizations are calling
the Montreal Protocol an outstanding success and predict that if the protocol
is fully implemented, a complete recovery of the Earth's protective ozone
shield could occur by the middle of next century.
- The World Meteorological Organization
and the United Nations Environment Program jointly released this week the
Executive Summary of the "Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion
- 1998". It was prepared by more than 200 scientists from around the
world and was reviewed June 1-6 by 77 scientists from 27 countries.
- The ozone layer shields the Earth from
the Sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. Exposure to increased UV-B radiation
at the Earth's surface is known to result in skin cancer and unpredictable
damage to plants, algae, the food chain and the global ecosystem.
- While welcoming the report's findings,
Klaus Topfer, executive director of UNEP cautioned against complacency
and urged all parties to the protocol to seize every opportunity to reduce
their emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals.
- "The use of economic instruments
has played an important role in the phase-out achieved so far by the industrialized
countries," says Topfer. "The developing countries, due to begin
their phase-out next year, can speed up the process by using these instruments,"
- Prof. G.O.P Obasi, secretary general
of WMO, paid tribute to the continuous efforts of WMO member countries
which have been carrying out systematic observations and analysis of ozone
and related chemical compounds for the last four decades.
- "Without such data and scientific
assessments it would have been impossible to detect the start of the ozone
decline in the 1970s" he said. "In fact, remedial actions that
were later taken as a result of the Montreal Protocol were made possible
thanks to these efforts."
- "The WMO global network of stations
is detecting lower rates of increase in bromine and a decline of chlorine
concentrations from ozone-destructive substances in the troposphere, obviously
as a result of the restrictions made by the Montreal Protocol," he
said. "However, perhaps it might not be possible to detect firm signs
of ozone recovery before another 20 years, due to the natural atmospheric
and ozone variability.
- He further urged governments to continue
to expand their activities in atmospheric monitoring and research, including
those on tropospheric ozone which is becoming an essential component in
the understanding of the ozone-climate issue.
- Even thought the protocol is working
well to reduce the use and release of ozone-depleting substances, the life
of chemicals already released in the atmosphere will keep the depletion
going for years to come, according to the report.
- The full Scientific Assessment 1998 on
the state of the ozone layer will be published in its entirety by WMO and
UNEP later this year and will be available as WMO Ozone Report No. 44.
- For more information, contact Robert
Bisset, UNEP, 254-2-623084 email firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright 1998,
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