World Ozone Day is observed on September 16 every year to spread awareness among people about the depletion of Ozone Layer. This year marks 35 years of the Vienna Convention. On this day, people from all over the world hold talks and seminars on the ozone layer. Educators teach students about the benefits of the Ozone layer and special events and activities are organised to spread awareness. This year the slogan for World Ozone Day is 'Ozone For Life'.
"On Ozone Day we celebrate 35 years of the Vienna Convention to Protect the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol, which united the world to cut out gases creating a hole in the ozone layer. We need this same sense of purpose and collaboration to address all environmental threats," Inger Anderson, Executive Director, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) said in a video message ahead of World Ozone Day.
What is Ozone layer
The Ozone layer protects the planet from Ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Ozone is made up of three atoms of oxygen. It is highly reactive gas and is represented by O3. It occurs naturally as well as a man-made product in the Earth's upper atmosphere i.e. stratosphere and lower atmosphere i.e. troposphere. The Ozone layer is present in Earth’s atmosphere (15-35km above Earth) in the lower portion of the stratosphere and has relatively high concentrations of ozone (O3). Naturally, it is formed through the interactions of solar UV radiation with molecular oxygen O2. It reduces the harmful UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface.
The main cause of ozone depletion and the ozone hole is manufactured chemicals, especially manufactured halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam- blowing agents (chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), HCFCs, halons). Since the early 1970's, scientists observed reduction in stratospheric ozone and it was found more prominent in Polar Regions. ODS substances have a lifetime of about 100 years.
Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
The scientific confirmation of the depletion of the ozone layer prompted the international community to establish a mechanism for cooperation to take action to protect the ozone layer. This was formalized in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which was adopted and signed by 28 countries, on 22 March 1985. In September 1987, this led to the drafting of The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
What is Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol, signed on September 16, 1987, is an international treaty planned to protect ozone layer by reducing the production of substances that are responsible for ozone layer depletion. The Montreal Protocol phases down the consumption and production of the different ozone depleting substances (ODS) in a step-wise manner, with different timetables for developed and developing countries. Under this treaty, all parties have specific responsibilities related to the phase out of the different groups of ODS, control of ODS trade, annual reporting of data, national licensing systems to control ODS imports and exports, and other matters.