Ban hails universal participation with ozone protection pacts

16 September 2009With Timor-Leste’s accession to the global pacts seeking to stem ozone loss, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed the now universal participation in these treaties as he marked the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. Timor-Leste, the world’s youngest democracy, has now joined all of the world’s other States in taking part in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol.“Timor-Leste’s action sends a strong signal of global solidarity, not only for addressing ozone depletion but for tackling other pressing multilateral challenges, of which climate change is pre-eminent,” Mr. Ban said in a message marking the International Day to protect the ozone layer, which protects the Earth’s population from harmful ultra-violet radiation.The country’s Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmão, said Timor-Leste is “very pleased to be joining the rest of the world in the fight against the depletion of the ozone layer and the effort towards it recovery.”The Montreal Protocol, which opened for signature on 16 September 2007, is an annex to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Since the adoption of the two pacts, the international ozone regime has expanded to address almost 100 ozone-depleting chemicals for refrigeration, electronics, foam-making and other industries.With evidence showing that, since 1990, the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, has slowed the progression of climate change by 12 years, the Secretary-General said that international cooperation on the harmful substance is a “timely reaffirmation that through unity of purpose and concerted action, we can minimize risks to our planet and build a safer world for future generations.”The lessons gleaned from this global collaboration should propel nations to ‘seal the deal’ at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, which is just over 80 days away from today, he underscored.Mr. Ban warned that inaction on the issue could result in dire social, economic and environmental consequences.“The example of the Montreal Protocol sends a power message that action on major global challenges is not only possible, but that the financial and human benefits invariably outweigh the costs.”The head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today pointed out that without the Montreal Protocol and its Vienna Convention, atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances would have surged tenfold by 2050.Achim Steiner said this would have resulted in “up to 20 million more cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataracts, not to speak of damage to human immune systems, wildlife and agriculture.” read more