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Ozone

Lesotho National Ozone Office

"...for life on earth – protect the ozone layer and prevent climate change..."

Background

For life on earth the sun provides light and heat onto the earth. However, sunlight contains harmful ultraviolent rays (UV-B). The Ozone Layer is found about 15 to 35 kilometres above the Earth's surface. It absorbs and filters harmful ultraviolent rays (UV-B) from the sun. It is a protective shield up in the sky in the upper atmosphere or "stratosphere". This protective layer acts as a giant umbrella that protects the Earth. 

Over the years the ozone layer has been stable since the observations started in 1960’s until 1980’s. This balance started to collapse under the influence of gases that contain chlorine like Chlorofluorocarbons, Hydro-chlorofluorocarbons and other chemical substances emitted into the air resulting in depletion of the ozone layer. The ozone depletion is most noticeable above the Antarctic region. This is called the “ozone hole”, since it looks like a hole viewed from satellite images above Antarctic. There is still no clear sign of ozone hole recovery even in recent years. 

Introduction

Lesotho has joined the rest of the world in protection and preservation of the environment by signing a number of international environmental agreements. Amongst the agreements that protect the environment is the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol. Lesotho ratified both the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol in 1994. 

The Vienna Convention adopted in 1985 advocates for the protection of Ozone Layer thereby protecting human health and the environment against adverse effects resulting from modifications of the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol, which entered into force in 1989, mandates political parties to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances. 

The 16th of September is earmarked as an International Ozone Day. World ozone day serves as a reminder to decision-makers and the general public of the need to protect and preserve the ozone layer. The theme for celebrations this year is “ozone layer protection: governance and compliance at their best” recognizing the successful achievements of Montreal Protocol in phasing out the ozone depleting substances through good governance.

Impacts of Ozone Layer depletion on humans, animals and plants

The depletion of ozone layer can results in negative impacts to both plants and animals including humans. Excessive exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun can result in skin cancer, eye cataracts, immune system suppression and other adverse effects to humans.

Measures to protect the Ozone Layer

  • Handle products like air-conditioners, refrigerators and freezers containing fluorocarbons with care.
  • Avoid leakage of fluorocarbons during servicing and recovery of air-conditioner, refrigerator or freezer.
  • When buying a product, take a moment to consider whether or not it is labelled chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) free.
  • When building or renovating a home or office building, use sprays and heat insulation materials which do not contain fluorocarbons.
  • When buying a pressurized gas cylinders select non-fluorocarbons.
  • Buy non-fluorocarbon vending machine or air-conditioners, refrigerators and freezers.

Roles of Government through the National Ozone Office

  • Coordinate and prepare country programme strategy and action plans.
  • Design and implement laws and measures that facilitate ozone depleting substances phase-out.
  • Consult with industry and other interested organizations on the steps to be taken for phase-out.
  • Ensure country’s compliance with Montreal Protocol and Vienna Convention.
  • Promote awareness and training programmes.
  • Create a national system for monitoring and reporting on national production and consumption of ozone depleting substances.
  • Prevent illegal trade both imports and exports of ozone depleting substances.

Achievements

  • Complete phase out of consumption of Chlorofluorocarbons (R12) by 2005.
  • Complete phase out of consumption of Halons by 2009.
  • Ratification of four amendments (London, Montreal, Beijing and Copenhagen) to the Montreal protocol by July 2010.
  • Complete phase out of consumption of methyl bromide by 2003.
  • Well trained technicians, customs officers and law enforcement agencies in good refrigeration, air conditions and fumigation using ozone friendly substances.

Challenges

  • Phase out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (R22) which has high Ozone Depleting Potential, and other substances like R134a which have high Global Warming Potential.
  • Implementation of ozone depleting substances licensing system and enforcement of ozone depleting substances regulations.