What is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer?

As spring has recently arrived in the southern hemisphere, September also seems to put the focus on the environment as well as the change of seasons. Learn more about the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, which was held on the 16th of this month.

What is the day about?

The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is an annual event which takes place every September 16th. The United Nations (UN) created the day in 1994 to raise awareness of the issues our planet is facing, from pollution, excessive waste and other harmful side effects of human lifestyle choices. Every year a different theme is selected – this year's topic was Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes on. The themes are chosen through an online voting system in which all the member parties get to select from the theme options. 

The day is celebrated in different ways in a number of locations around the world, although all events are tied together through their mission to increase awareness about the state of the ozone layer and how people can help to protect one of the most important parts of our planet. The posters, banners and events produced by the day aim to make everyone understand the importance of the ozone layer as well as realise that each individual can make a significant contribution to its protection.

Why is the Montreal Protocol significant?

According to Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, the Montreal Protocol is "perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date". Signed in 1987, the Montreal Protocol aims to reduce the amount of emissions and products that are made which deplete the ozone layer. Ultimately, the Protocol intends to eliminate these planet-harming substances entirely through scientific research and technological developments. 

Almost 100 chemicals are listed in the document under several categories and a timeline is set out for their reduction and eventual complete removal from the environment. The amount of these chemicals which are consumed is based upon import and export factors as well as general production figures. There are several substances which should be phased out but are not currently listed in the document, such as the substances used in some asthma inhalers as well as fire suppression devices for submarines and aircraft, as no adequate substitutes have yet to be found. 

How can further action be taken?

The signing of the Protocol and the consequential Day to mark this event can be reinforced through further action – official bodies could consider using government promotional products to highlight the event. As well as large-scale global action, individuals can also complement efforts to help save the planet by making changes to their daily habits and routines, many of which can contribute to negative impacts on the environment.

Taking reusable coffee cups to work is one easy and quick way to help do your bit for the environment. Cutting down on the number of plastic and other wasted materials in turn means fewer harmful emissions are released into the atmosphere, protecting the vital ozone layer. Green bags are another way to aid efforts to preserve the planet, as they reduce the number of plastic bags and other materials which end up in landfill, affecting the well-being of the planet, including the ozone layer. Making these changes is an immediate way to help the longer-term health of your local surroundings as well as contribute to making the entire planet a prettier, more sustainable place to live.