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Montreal Protocol: An effective tool for controlling ozone depletion?

INTRODUCTION

For centuries, human activity has been altering the natural environment. Science has been preoccupied by how these changes affect the earth's natural support system and the impact that might have on life form, particularly man. The effects of most human activities are more or less fully understood, from the contribution of pollution to global warning, to the link between deforestation and the advancement of the desert. Yet, some man made phenomenon still require investigation to be fully characterised. One of these is the depletion of the ozone layer, the band of ozone molecules that occur in the upper atmosphere, which is known to protect the surface of the earth from potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The processes that lead to its depletion and increased passage of the sun's UV radiations due to ozone loss are fully understood, but its full impact on the natural environment is still inconclusive. There has for example, been no direct link between skin cancers and exposure to UV radiation. Such limitations from the best available science is the basis for the precautionary principle in environmental management.

The global community has not waited to have a clear understanding of the threat posed by high UV radiations resulting from ozone depletion to take steps to keep the protective ozone layer in tact. The Vienna Convention on the Protecting of the Ozone layer was signed in 1985. In 1987, governments adopted the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone layer. The goal of the Protocol was to reduce ozone loss by phasing out ozone depleting substances (ODS), especially chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The treaty is being praised as one of the most successful international instruments of environmental protection. It was the first in history to…...

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