The Ozone Layer: Protecting our Atmosphere for Generations to Come Mon, Nov 12, 2012

11 November 2012, Geneva - A day before the annual global meeting on the treaty that protects the ozone layer, the world’s scientific community together with governments, international organizations and NGOs have gathered for the one-day Seminar on Protecting our Atmosphere for Generations to Come.

The event, organized by the UNEP Ozone Secretariat in cooperation with the Government of Switzerland, is reflecting on the accomplishments of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer since it was forged on 16 September 1987.

“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, we remember how far we have come as a global community in our efforts to save the ozone layer. In the 1980s, when scientists discovered the ozone hole in the Antarctic, governments, industry, civil society and international organizations were quick to cooperate and do something about it. Because of their unwavering commitment in the last 25 years, we are slowly reaping the benefits and the ozone layer is recovering,” said Mr. Marco Gonzalez, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat.

Last month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States announced that the 2012 size of the Antarctic ozone hole is the smallest in 20 years. The maximum size this year was 8.2 million square miles, in contrast with the largest ozone hole ever of 11.5 million square miles in 2000.

Under the Montreal Protocol, governments must commit to gradually reduce and eventually eliminate their production and consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODS) following an agreed timetable. The Montreal Protocol has been signed and ratified by all the nation-states of the world, and because the compliance rate of the Parties is very high, the global community has managed to phase-out 98% of historical production and consumption of ODS.

“The Montreal Protocol is truly a good model for an international treaty. It is the only universally ratified multilateral environmental agreement, and in these times when we face increasingly complex and  interrelated environmental issues, it is useful to look at it and see why and how it is working,” stated Mr. Gerard Poffet vice director of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment Switzerland.

The Montreal Protocol has also assisted in  avoiding tens of millions of cases of skin cancer and eye cataracts, which wouldhave cost trillions of dollars in healthcare expenses. Moreover, the treaty has caused unforeseen benefits for the climate, because by phasing out ODS, countries has also eliminated emissions equivalent to 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide

“As we step into a new phase of implementation, we must be continually committed because new challenges are ahead,” said Mr Gonzalez. “We need to phase-out tens of thousands of ODP tones of hydrochlorofluorocarbons, and governments and industries have an opportunity to select more sustainable alternative technologies that are not detrimental to ozone and climate and at the same time, are more energy efficient,” he added.

Following the seminar is the 24th Meeting of the Parties from 12 to 16 November.

Meeting Website:

For more information, please contact:

Mr Marco Gonzalez, Executive Secretary, UNEP Ozone Secretariat, Tel: +254 20 762 3885, Email:

Ms Anne-Maria Fenner, Information Manager, UNEP OzonAction Programme, Tel: +33 6 78385137, Email:

Notes to Editors

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the United Nations system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.

Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987 and entered into force on January 1, 1989. Since then, it has undergone five revisions, in 1990 (London), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing). Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international cooperation "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date...”

The Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol is managed by an Executive Committee which is responsible for overseeing the operation of the Fund. The Committee comprises seven members from developed and seven members from developing countries. The 2012 Committee membership includes Belgium, Canada, Finland, Japan, Romania, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America (developed countries) and Argentina, China, Cuba, India, Kenya, Jordan and Mali (developing country members) and is chaired by Mr. Xiao Xuezhi (China). The Committee is assisted by the Fund Secretariat which is based in Montreal, Canada.

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