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Earth’s Ozone Is Thickening, Thanks to Chemical Reductions

Airborne materials that deplete the ozone are on the decline for the first time—and that’s owed in large part to industry-led government measures, including the Kigali Amendment, reports The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: “In a report released Monday by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization, researchers found a significant thickening of the ozone layer, a region of the atmosphere from 9 to 18 miles high that absorbs ultraviolet rays and prevents them from reaching the Earth’s surface.”

  • The layer had been thinning for decades, according to some studies, due partly to the use of common refrigerant and propellant chemicals.

A direct link: The Kigali Amendment, the greenhouse gas–reduction accord signed in 2016 and ratified by the Senate this past September, bans the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.  

  • The NAM called for adoption of the measure in its climate change roadmap, “The Promise Ahead,” and was at the forefront of the ratification push.

Other benefits: “The scientific assessment released Monday stated HFCs are also a planet-warming greenhouse gas and estimated that the HFC ban has eliminated the use of chemicals that otherwise would have resulted in as much as 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100.”

More recovery ahead: “Despite the threats from wildfires and Chinese factory emissions, the ozone layer is now expected to recover to 1980 levels—before the appearance of the ozone hole—by around 2066 over the Antarctic, by 2045 over the Arctic and by 2040 for the rest of the world, the report stated.”

Our take: “Manufacturers are leading the way in environmentally-sound practices,” said NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Chris Morris.

  • “The NAM-supported Kigali Amendment is another positive step towards responsible environmental stewardship. U.S. policymakers should focus on onshoring manufacturing plants and jobs so that we can achieve our shared goal of emission reduction.”
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