By Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim
Asean Centre for Biodiversity
On September 16, 32 years ago, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was adopted to regulate the production and consumption of man-made ozone-depleting substances.
As of yet, the only United Nations treaty to have been ratified by all 197 countries of the world, including the 10 Asean member-states (AMS), the Montreal Protocol was humanity’s response to the alarming havoc these chemicals are wreaking on the stratospheric ozone layer, the Earth’s protective shield against harmful levels of ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun.
According to the 2018 Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion report, parts of the ozone layer have recovered at a rate of 1 percent to 3 percent every decade since 2000.
The Parties’ commitment to the Montreal Protocol has led to the phase-out of 99 percent of ozone-depleting chemicals in refrigerators, air-conditioners, and many other products.
The Montreal Protocol is considered to be one of the most successful international environmental treaties in history.
This year’s theme for the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is “32 Years and Healing.”
The Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) joins the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in celebrating over 30 years of successful international cooperation to protect the world’s ozone layer.
The ACB is an intergovernmental organization facilitating cooperation and coordination among the AMS, and with regional and international organizations, on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of such natural resources.
As an organization that facilitates international cooperation, the ACB recognises the potent power and the global impact of the Parties’ commitment to the Montreal Protocol. As an organizwation working to halt biodiversity loss, the ACB welcomes the continued healing of the ozone layer, the protective benefits of which reap gains for biodiversity.
Without the ozone layer’s protection, the sun’s UV rays penetrate deep into oceans, damaging coral reefs and adversely affecting marine life, a vital source of the world’s food supply and livelihood.
The depletion of the ozone layer also affects plant growth, disrupting photosynthesis.
Uncontrolled ozone depletion significantly reduces crop yield worldwide. It also threatens the wild flora that serve as forest cover and provide various ecosystems services.
UV radiation also contributes to the loss of fauna globally. According to a 2017 Climate Change Responses report, UV rays are one of the drivers of the declining numbers of amphibians worldwide.
In the Asean region, the ACB commends the AMS for their efforts to restore and protect the ozone layer. The 2017 Asean State of the Environment report shows that the consumption by AMS ozone-depleting substances has dropped over a five-year period.
The 2018 Asean Cooling Summit that was held in Bangkok, Thailand, tackled the use of energy-efficient and climate-friendly air-conditioning technologies in the region.
Currently, most air-conditioning systems use hydrofluorocarbons, which have been found to be potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, another threat to biodiversity.
The summit brought together leaders from government, business, civil society, and academe to discuss sustainable solutions to the growing demand in air-conditioning in the Asean.
While much work still needs to be done in protecting biodiversity and securing a thriving world for present and future generations, our decades-long cooperation that has led to the healing of our ozone layer is a gain we celebrate today for our planet and our future.
Happy World Ozone Day!