35 years ago today, on September 16, 1987, is when governments of 46 nations around the world signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. And to commemorate this historic milestone, in 1994, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed September 16 as World Ozone Day, also known as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.
This day marks a significant turning point for the health of our planet, as nations worldwide came together for the first time by agreeing to phase out the production and consumption of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, Earth’s protective shield that protects us and the environment from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
The Montreal Protocol is the first UN treaty to have achieved universal ratification by every country in the world, including all 198 UN Member States. Since its adoption, the Protocol has put the ozone layer on the path to recovery, with predictions showing that it could fully recover by mid-century or later. Full implementation of the Montreal Protocol is expected to prevent 443 million cases of skin cancer and 63 million cases of cataracts in the United States. As a result, it’s saving millions of lives each year from the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Furthermore, the Protocol is protecting the global climate system. In October 2016, 197 countries adopted the Kigali amendment under the Protocol to phasedown hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gas emissions that deplete the ozone layer.
It’s no wonder that the Montreal Protocol is considered one of the world’s most successful international environmental treaties to date. Today, as we celebrate 35 years of success, the Protocol serves as an example of how when countries around the world come together for a common purpose, we can bring about positive change for us all and the world as a whole.
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