India Observes 27th Global Ozone Day

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    • On 16 September 2021, India observed the 27th International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.
      • The theme of World Ozone Day 2021 is “Montreal Protocol – Keeping us, our food and vaccines cool”.
    • On this occasion, an Action Plan for implementing the recommendations of the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) for thematic Area Space Cooling in Buildings has also been released.

    Global Ozone Day

    • In 1994, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) declared the 16th September as International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. 
    • The day marks the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer, in 1987.
      • The Montreal Protocol seeks to phase out Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) to preserve the ozone layer and prevent further damage to it.

    Ozone

    • Ozone is a molecule that contains three oxygen atoms (O3). 
      • It is a pale blue gas with a pungent (chlorine-like) smell.
    • The ozone layer is the common term for the high concentration of ozone that is found in the stratosphere around 86 to 92 km above the earth’s surface
      • It was first discovered by the French physicists Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson in 1913.
      • Density of Ozone is measured in the Dobson (Db) Unit.
      • Ozone Layer in the atmosphere is thicker over the poles than over the equator.
    • In the troposphere, it is considered as a pollutant causing eye irritation and respiratory hardship.

    How is Ozone Created?

    • When the sun’s rays (Ultraviolet rays) strike oxygen (O2) molecules, it splits oxygen molecules into single atoms.
    • The single atom Oxygen reacts with another oxygen molecule to form Ozone.

    Source: Canada Government

     

    Significance of Ozone

    • It covers the entire planet and protects life on earth by absorbing harmful ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation from the sun.
    • Impact on Plants
      • Plants cannot live and grow in heavy ultraviolet radiation, nor can the planktons that serve as food for most of the ocean life.
    • Health impact of UV-B rays
      • With a weakening of the Ozone Layer shield, humans would be more susceptible to skin cancer, cataracts and impaired immune systems.
    • Without it, life may have been impossible on earth due to harmful UV-B rays.

    Ozone Depleting Substances

    • Major Ozone Depleting substances are
      • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and 
      • Halons
    • The major sources of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) are
      • Manufactured halocarbon refrigerants, 
      • Solvents, 
      • Propellants, and 
      • Foam- blowing agents

    Source: NOAA

    Mechanism of Ozone Depletion: Role of Polar Stratospheric Clouds

    • The largest Ozone hole appears over Antarctica at the onset of summer.
    • Polar Vortex concentrates ODSs around poles.
    • During winters, the Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs) are formed.
      • They provide the catalytic site for reaction between Ozone molecules and CFCs or Halons.
      • CFCs and Halons are non degrading long lived pollutants and create a chain reaction which keeps on depleting ozone.
    • Suddenly in winter, when Polar Stratospheric Clouds melt the hole suddenly appears.

    Source: PublicHealthNotes

    Key Highlights from the Celebration

    • Successful phase out of Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS)
      • India’s success in implementation of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) phase out programme is owing to the involvement of key stakeholders.
      • India involved the key stakeholders both at the planning as well as implementation levels.
    • Economic Impact v/s Environmental Goals
      • Adverse economic impacts should appropriately be addressed while developing a Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phase down strategy.
        • HFCs are under the Kigali Amendment.
    • An Action Plan for implementing recommendations of the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) for the thematic Area Space Cooling in Buildings has been released. 
      • The Plan has been developed after mapping of the recommendations given in the ICAP and after detailed discussions with various stakeholders including line departments and Ministries.

    India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)

    • The Plan is the first of its kind in the world to be developed by the MoEF&CC.
      • It addresses cooling requirements across sectors. 
      • It also lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand through synergies in actions for securing both environmental and socio-economic benefits. 
      • The ICAP aims to reduce both direct and indirect emissions.
    • A Study Report on the Cold Chain sector in India was also released.
      • Objective: Promoting non-ozone depleting substances and Low- global warming potential Refrigerants.
    • Another Study Report on Public Procurement Policies for Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Equipment using non-Ozone Depleting Substances based refrigerants was also released.

    Montreal Protocol

    • Montreal Protocol is a multilateral environmental agreement.
    • It regulates the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). 
    • It was adopted on September 15, 1987. 
    • It is one of the most successful environmental agreements across the world.

    Kigali Amendment

    • The Parties to the Montreal Protocol reached agreement at their 28th Meeting of the Parties on 15 October 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda.
      • Aim: To phase-down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). 
      • Note: Although Montreal Protocol is for ODS, HFCs are not ODS.
        • HFCs are Green-House Gases but HFCs were invented to phase out ODS.
      • Hence, taking moral responsibility to not create another monster to curb one problem,the Kigali amendment was introduced.
    • Countries agreed to add HFCs to the list of controlled substances, and approved a timeline for their gradual reduction by 80-85 percent by the late 2040s.

     

    Source: PIB