30 years of healing the ozone layer
This week (Saturday 16th September), marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The signing of the Montreal Protocol was a landmark political event and environmental science made it happen.
Atmospheric research by NCAS’s Professor John Pyle and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge played a leading role in demonstrating the effect of man-made gases on the ozone layer, and the consequences for human health. Their contributions played a key part in the strengthening of the Montreal Protocol.
Combined with observations of large losses of ozone over Antarctica made by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), this evidence convinced governments from all over the world to take action and create the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which was signed on 16 September. The protocol, along with other pieces of related legislation, has ensured the rapid phase-out of ozone depleting substances.
A NERC-commissioned analysis in 2015 found that NERC's ozone research (conducted by NCAS and BAS) has spared thousands of lives and led to lower food prices, leading to savings of £1.3 billion every year for the UK, thanks to the early implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
After 30 years, the Montreal Protocol continues to be a fantastic example of successful global action to tackle a worldwide environmental issue. The recent observations indicating that the ozone hole appears to be on the path to recovery, exemplifies this.