Montreal Protocol and the hole in the ozone

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Last March 10 at the Black Bird restaurant in Makati, Concepcion Industrial Corporation (CIC), through its subsidiary Concepcion-Carrier Air Conditioning Company (CCAC), launched the Green Footprints Movement. The Green Footprints Movement is an effort of the company to educate the public on carbon footprint, the effects of the products we use at home, and conservation of energy.

One of the key speakers during the event was Dr. Eva Ocfemia, assistant director of the Environmental Management Bureau. During her short lecture, she discussed the ecological state of the country and expounded on the Montreal Protocol.

She reveals that 80 percent of air pollution here in Metro Manila is caused by vehicle emission. To remedy this, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources launched the Natural Greening Program, which included reforestation of 1.5 million hectares of land from 2011-2016 with 1.5 billion trees. DENR has also set stricter vehicle emission standards, which would lower the diesel particulate matter (DPM) count of vehicular emissions and result to cleaner air in the coming years.

 

Asian Dragon - Infographic board on the world's carboon footprint and its effects
Infographic board on the world’s carbon footprint and its effects

The stratospheric ozone layer, or simply the ozone layer, protects the earth from the harmful UV rays. In 1973, an international study by chemists Frank Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina found that the ozone layer was continuously getting depleted by certain substances people use in everyday appliances and equipment. This will result to elevated levels of skin cancer and crop damage in the coming years due to the levels of UV-B reaching the surface. Thus, the enactment of The Montreal Protocol, an international treaty effective 1989, which aims to bring back the condition of the ozone layer to its condition in the 1980s by 2070.

In relation to the proverbial hole in the ozone, Dr. Ocfemia also discussed how The Montreal Protocol aimed to improve the condition of the ozone layer by imposing the phase out of ozone-depleting products.

By The Montreal Protocol, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC), and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) must be phased out from the planet, following a certain deadline. CFCs has been used for the manufacturing of aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams and packing materials, and as refrigerants. HFCs are regarded as super greenhouse gases and were also commonly used as refrigerants in refrigerators and air-conditioning units. HCFCs have been used as substitute to CFCs but still contains levels of chlorine that can attack the ozone.

HCFC is the last group of ozone-depleting substances to be phased out and the Philippines is looking to eradicate the last HCFC by 2020. Since the Montreal Protocol came to effect, CFCs and related chlorinated hydrocarbons have been substantially decreasing, meaning well for the ozone layer and for the people.

 

Asian Dragon - Green Footprints Movement
Green Footprints Movement

[Montreal Protocol information via UNEP]

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