Today is International Preservation of the Ozone Layer Day

Thanks to measures like the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, ozone-depleting substances are being phased out, resulting in very large reductions of global warming gases and significant protection of the global climate system. That is the message today from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in remarks prepared for observation of this 15th annual International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.

Adopted by resolution of the U.N. General Assembly in 1994, the day is set aside to focus on efforts to combat depletion of "earth's fragile shield." Addressing this year's theme--"Montreal Protocol - Global Partnership for Global Benefits"--Ban says that world governments' decisive multilateral action on environmental threats such as ozone depletion can bring widespread health, social, and economic benefits. Specifically, he notes the Montreal Protocol is helping to safeguard the planet by controlling chemicals that have emerged as contributors to global warming.

By phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)--once common in products such as refrigerators--and now deciding to accelerate a freeze and phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), the treaty has provided two benefits at once," Ban says. "I hope governments will look at such results and feel empowered to act across a wide range of environmental challenges, and not only in prosperous times. Such action should include exploring more fully the natural synergies that can occur among our various multilateral environmental agreements."

Looking ahead to next year's U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, for which governments will meet in Copenhagen, Ban says the goal will be "a decisive new agreement that sets the world on track to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, and that provides the funding needed for vulnerable countries to adapt to the impact of climate change. Such an agreement would not only represent progress on one of the greatest challenges of our time, but is also likely to help tackle urban air pollution, deforestation, the loss of biodiversity and other dangers.

"After decades of chemical attack, it may take another 50 years or so for the ozone layer to recover fully," Ban adds. "As the Montreal Protocol has taught us, when we degrade our environment too far, nursing it back to health tends to be a long journey, not a quick fix. But the overarching lesson of the Protocol is that by acting on one challenge, we also act on many others. Continued progress, and the possibility of new breakthroughs from Copenhagen and other fora, would also make significant contributions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. On this International Day, let us pledge to seize more such multi-faceted opportunities, and do our utmost to create tomorrow's 'green economy' today."

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