On Sunday, September 16, the Philippines will join the rest of the world in commemorating the historic signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
With this year’s theme: Protecting the Atmosphere for Generations to Come, the celebration emphasizes the extraordinary collaboration and environmental benefits achieved by the world’s governments in protecting the stratospheric ozone layer through the operation of the Montreal Protocol.
“It seemed like it was only yesterday when the world was shocked to learn of the discovery of an ozone hole in the Antarctic, that led countries, only 24 then, forged the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer on September 16, 1987. Twenty-five years later and with 197 countries cooperating, including the Philippines, we are happy to note that based on recent studies, the ozone layer is now on the way to its recovery,” DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said.
Paje expressed gratitude to all sectors of the Philippine society who have supported the government effort in achieving its commitment of phasing out the ozone depleting substances (ODS) under the Montreal Protocol.
Forged in 1987 in Montreal, Canada, the Protocol is a multilateral environmental agreement where the 197 member-countries who have ratified it have committed to gradually reduce and eventually ban the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The Philippines signed the Protocol on Sept. 14, 1988 and ratified it on March 21, 1991.
In his press statement, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the Montreal Protocol as “not merely a success in meeting its immediate objectives, it offers substantive lessons and inspiration in addressing other global challenges and turning them into opportunities for common progress.”
He also said that with the global phase-out of 98 percent of ozone-depleting gases, the ozone layer is on track to recover in the next five decades and that millions of cases of skin cancer and eye cataracts, as well as the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation on the environment have been avoided.
The UN chief also stressed that the Protocol has “catalyzed considerable innovation in the chemical and equipment manufacturing industry, resulting in more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly refrigeration systems.”
Further, compliance with the Protocol has also resulted to a reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, as most ODS are also GHGs. This reduction is also a “prime contributor to the fight against global warming,” Paje said.
The celebration of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer in the Philippines has been extended to the whole month of September. Highlights include the presentation of a certificate of recognition of Philippine contribution to the global effort from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ozone Secretariat, launching of a new song for the protection of the ozone layer composed by renowned Filipino composer/singer and environmental advocate Noel Cabangon, hanging of streamers to enjoin the public in the observance of the celebration, distribution of information kits to schools as part of reference materials for the educational campaigns, and airing of documentaries on the ozone layer in national tv stations.