South Africa marks International Day for Preservation of Ozone Layer

16 September 2019

South Africa joins the global community in commemorating the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer on 16 September 2019.

The ozone layer is important for life on earth, as it absorbs most of the harmful Ultraviolet-B radiation from the sun and filters out lethal ultraviolet (UV-C radiation). The amount of ozone above the surface of the earth differs with location, depending on time scales that range from daily to seasonal. The variants are caused by the stratospheric winds and the chemical production and destruction of ozone.

By protecting the fragile layer of gas that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, we are contributing significantly to global efforts to address climate change while protecting human health and ecosystems.

The theme for World Ozone Day 2019 is 32 Years and Healing.  It a celebration of more than 30 years of international cooperation to protect the ozone layer and the climate under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.  

South Africa, as a party to the Vienna Convention for the protection of Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol, is on course to reduce its consumption of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC). The issues of ozone depletion and climate change have been at the forefront of the international community’s environmental agenda for several years, and it is generally accepted that man-made chemicals, such as HFCs, and human activities have an adverse impact on the global climate.

Therefore, ozone depletion and climate change cannot be separated from one another. Ozone depletion produces an indirect cooling effect, while an abundance of ozone-depleting substances results in the warming of the atmosphere. 

In order to control the consumption of the ozone-depleting substances, regulations for the phasing out and management of ozone-depleting substances are being implemented, while roadshows have been held to ensure greater awareness and an understanding of the effects of HFCs and the reasons they need to be phased out.  These have focused largely on the chemical sector, including the technical experts repairing or working in, for example, the fridge and air conditioning repair sectors. 

South Africa is one of only 46 countries to have signed the Montreal Protocol since it came into effect in 1989, and one of only a few to have ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which came into force on 1 January 2019.

The Kigali amendment focuses on phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent climate-warming gases.

Since 1989, the Montreal Protocol has led to the phase-out of 99% of ozone-depleting chemicals in fridges, air conditioners, and several other products.

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