Did you miss our live webinar on World Ozone Day? No worries!
You can read the best parts of our discussion with Liazzat Rabbiosi and Sotiris Papadelis in the following articles!
WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE OZONE LAYER AND CLIMATE CHANGE?
It is common knowledge that depletion of the ozone layer is a bad thing for the environment on earth, but what exactly is the relation between climate change and the ozone layer?
UNEP Program Officer Liazzat Rabbiosi participated in Act4Eco’s thought-provoking live webinar on the 16th of September – The World Ozone Day.
Here, she engaged in a discussion of – among other topics – how the global effort to restore the ozone layer is linked with climate change.
Impact of global decisions
The ozone layer protects the earth from the radiation of the sun. If it weren’t for this protective shield of gas in the stratosphere, the exposure to UV-B radiation from the sun would make life on earth untenable. However the “hole” in the ozone layer is not scientifically considered a major factor in global warming. The additional energy added to the Earth system from the ozone hole is so small that it couldn’t be responsible for the warming trend that’s been occurring.
But this doesn’t mean that ozone layer preservation and climate change is not tangentially linked. An important connection is the fact that many of the substances responsible for depleting the ozone layer – such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) & hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) – have been found to also heavily impact the rising temperature on the earth’s surface.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) has long been considered the main reason for global heating, but modern studies are indicating that several of these other type gases are contributing as well. Liazzat Rabbiosi explains how the global treaty of 1987 known as The Montreal Protocol has been the main reason behind restoring the “hole” in the ozone layer:
“In 1987 every country in the world co-signed – for the first time in history – a global treatise focusing specifically on an environmental issue. In the case of the Montreal Protocol, the subject was ozone layer preservation. This protocol has been instrumental in reducing the ‘ozone hole’. Thanks to this global agreement, 99% of ozone depleting substances has been phased out.”
As effective as the Montreal Protocol has been in preserving the ozone layer, the document has since needed an upgrade for it not to contribute to the climate crisis. Liazzat Rabbiosi explains how the protocol was amended to exist in a symbiotic relationship with modern day efforts made in mitigating climate change:
“The main objective of the Montreal Protocol has been to phase out production and consumption of CFCs and HFCs and replace these gases with alternatives that would not be harmful to the ozone layer – such as HFCs. However, HFCs has since proven to be powerful greenhouse gases. This realisation led to a change in how the original document was written. In 2016 the Kigali Amendment was added. It is named after Rwanda’s capital where the change was agreed upon. The Kigali amendment introduces controlling measures for reducing production of HFCs on a world wide scale.”
The policy is liable to have a significant impact on human-induced climate change. Some HFCs are believed to be upwards on a thousand times more potent than CO2 in contributing to climate change. As such, the HFC phasedown begun by the Kigali Amendment is expected to avoid up to 0,4 degree Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.
The Kigali amendment is now stimulating a further shift towards low global warming HFCs or alternative coolants, such as hydrocarbons or ammonia. This shift to new coolants has also allowed manufacturers and users to switch to refrigeration and air conditioning systems with more efficient energy use, which not only benefits the ozone layer but climate change in general as well.
Importance of user awareness
Keeping track of the energy efficiency of household appliances and equipment is a way for individual consumers to contribute in a positive way towards climate change and ozone layer restoration. For instance replacing an old air-conditioning unit or a refrigerator will likely be more energy efficient – which is better for the climate – and in turn could also stop emission of harmful gases like CFCs – which benefits the ozone layer.
As Liazzat Rabbiosi explains, creating user awareness of these types of matters is mutually beneficial to the preservation of the ozone layer and in mitigating climate change:
“One of the very important policy actions that governments take to implement the Montreal Protocol and meet the climate change commitments of the Paris Agreement is regarding awareness activities such as World Ozone Day. There is a focus on spreading knowledge to citizens on how they can change their behaviours in a helpful way. This is one of the most important aspects for the future, because understanding creates motivation for behavioral change.”
Acting towards ones impact on the climate could help preserve the ozone layer, and – vice versa – taking ozone layer preservation into account in ones everyday life could have a beneficial side effect on the health of the climate.
In other words: There is a connection between the ozone layer and climate change in the way we think about our impact on the planet. You and the people you know can help make a difference for the future of the environment and the ozone layer protecting us.
How can I actually do that, you ask? Go to Act4eco.eu to learn 24 actions you can take at home to do your part on behalf of the planet.