Ozone Progress

A refrigerator factory in 2018 in Xingfu, China, an area that defied restrictions on ozone-depleting CFC-11 until a government crackdown. Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

Any time we see even the slightest sign of meaningful change, it is worth pausing, noting it, and getting back to work:

Rogue emissions from China of ozone-depleting chemicals had threatened to delay recovery by a decade. But the emissions were stopped, according to a U.N.-backed report.

The protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere could be restored within several decades, scientists said Monday, as recent rogue emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals from China have been largely eliminated.

In a United Nations-sponsored assessment, the scientists said that global emissions of CFC-11, a banned chemical that has been used as a refrigerant and in insulating foams, had declined since 2018 after increasing for several years. CFC-11 and similar chemicals, collectively called chlorofluorocarbons, destroy ozone, which blocks ultraviolet radiation from the sun that can cause skin cancer and otherwise harm people and other living things.

The scientists said that if current policies remained in place, ozone levels between the polar regions should reach pre-1980 levels by 2040. Ozone holes, or regions of greater depletion that appear regularly near the South Pole and, less frequently, near the North Pole, should also recover, by 2045 in the Arctic and about 2066 in Antarctica.

“Things continue to trend in the right direction,” said Stephen A. Montzka, a research chemist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and one of the report’s authors. Dr. Montzka led a 2018 study that alerted the world that CFC-11 emissions had been increasing since 2012 and that they appeared to come from East Asia…

Read the whole article here.

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