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Earth’s ozone layer is on track to recover after phasing out dangerous chemicals

Scientists discovered a gaping hole in the ozone layer in the 1980s, leading to the Montreal Protocol that phased out the use of harsh chemicals that destroy the ozone

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In this Jan. 26, 2015 file photo, Wenjun Li, a marine chemist from China, walks along the beach in search of samples in Punta Hanna, Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands archipelago, Antarctica. Chinese officials plan to detail their ambitions in Antarctica as Beijing hosts a meeting beginning Monday, May 22, 2017 of an international group that oversees management of the polar region.

Natacha Pisarenko, Associated Press

Here’s some good news about the environment for once. Scientists announced that Earth’s ozone layer is slowly repairing and is on track for a full recovery in the next 40 years after phasing out harsh chemicals that were destroying the ozone.

The ozone layer is critical in protecting the planet from ultraviolet rays, but in 1985, scientists discovered a gaping hole in the ozone. They started pointing out harsh chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons that deplete the ozone and can be found in common household appliances and chemicals like in refrigerators or aerosols.

What is the Montreal Protocol?

Scientists and countries all over the world came together to form the Montreal Protocol, which made a big push to eliminate the use of the chemicals. With that in place since 1989, “the use of CFCs has decreased 99%,” CNN reported.

The shift required international cooperation and “established the phaseout of almost 100 synthetic chemicals that were tied to the destruction of the all-important ozone,” per NPR.

“The impact the Montreal Protocol has had on climate change mitigation cannot be overstressed,” said Meg Seki, executive secretary of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Ozone Secretariat, in a statement, per NPR. “Over the last 35 years, the Protocol has become a true champion for the environment. The assessments and reviews undertaken by the Scientific Assessment Panel remain a vital component of the work of the Protocol that helps inform policy and decision-makers.”

How does the ozone layer affect climate change?

The hole in the ozone layer continued expanding over the Antarctic until 2000, but the report indicates that it is now on track to be return to how it was in the 1980s, before there was a hole, as long as current policies continue to be followed, according to BBC.

While the hole in the ozone layer is not a direct cause of climate change, it can have a positive effect on helping impact climate change by preventing “up to 1C of warming by the middle of the century — if compared to increasing their use by 3% per year,” scientists stated, per BBC.