Celebrate healing of the ozone layer

World Ozone Day is held on September 16 to commemorate the anniversary as well as achievements of the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed on September 16, 1987, to protect the ozone layer by limiting the production and use of ozone-depleting substances.

Hailed as the most successful environmental policy of our time, the Montreal Protocol grew out of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was adopted and signed by 28 countries.

On September 16, 2009, the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol became the first treaties in the history of the United Nations to achieve universal ratification.

The Montreal Protocol sets binding progressive phase-out obligations for developed and developing countries for all the major ozone depleting substances, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and less damaging transitional chemicals such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

It has been credited with the phasing out of nearly 100 percent of controlled ozone-depleting substances and potent global-warming gases. It also helped mitigate climate change by averting more than 135 billion tonnes of CO2e emissions, from 1990 to 2010.

In 2016, the signatories to the Montreal Protocol reached a landmark agreement, known as the Kigali Amendment, to phase down 18 main hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The Kigali Amendment broadened the scope of the Montreal Protocol to include substances that have a strong climate effect. While safe for ozone, HFCs are climate-warming greenhouse gases with extremely high global warming potential (GWP).

The HFC phase-down aims to limit global warming by up to 0.4°C by the end of this century. To meet this target, the use of HFCs in refrigerators, air conditioners and related products will have to be reduced by more than 80 per cent over the next 30 years.

HVAC&R professionals, organisations, manufacturers and businesses play a vital role in preventing further ozone depletion by helping the industry to transition away from ozone-depleting and high-GWP refrigerants.

One of the ways to reduce greenhouse emissions is to recover, recycle and reuse refrigerant of acceptable quality, and to return all unwanted and contaminated refrigerant for safe disposal.

Backed by Australia’s refrigeration and air-conditioning community, Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA) estimates that it has recovered more than 7,000 tonnes of refrigerant since 1993, of which more than 400 tonnes were reclaimed. More than 6,700 tonnes (91 per cent) of the refrigerant has also been safely destroyed.

According to RRA, more than 10 million tonnes of stratospheric ozone has been preserved – enough to fill 1.4 million ISO gas tanks. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, this is equivalent to more than 70 billion kilometres of car travel today.

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