The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987. New Zealand’s obligations under the Montreal Protocol are implemented through the Ozone Layer Protection Act 1996 and the Ozone Layer Protection Regulations 1996. The Act and its Regulations are implemented and enforced by the Environmental Protection Authority, but ozone layer protection policy is managed by the Ministry for the Environment in conjunction with other relevant government departments.
The Protocol sets targets for reducing the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances. New Zealand has phased out the import of all ozone depleting substances in accordance with the Protocol. The import of halons was phased out by 1994, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), other fully halogenated CFCs, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform and hydrobromofluorocarbons by 1996. The import of methyl bromide for non-quarantine and pre-shipment purposes ended in 2007.
The remaining controlled substances are bulk hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). New Zealand is accelerating the phase out of HCFCs to that required by the Protocol and is on track to a 100 per cent reduction of imports by 2015 compared to the Protocol’s 2030 deadline.
The Montreal Protocol celebrates its 25th anniversary on 16 September 2012. The Protocol is widely acknowledged as the world’s most successful environmental agreement. It has been very effective in galvanising the international community to act to protect the ozone layer. Atmospheric concentrations of ozone depleting substances reached a maximum in the late 1990s, and have been declining since. This has avoided significant impacts on both human health and the environment.
New Zealand was one of the first countries to sign the Protocol in 1987 and has taken an active role in international discussions about the Protocol. New Zealand is committed to meeting and exceeding commitments to the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer and to phase out ozone depleting substances.
The ozone layer plays an important role in protecting Earth by filtering out ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Over exposure to ultraviolet radiation can impact human health. In the latter part of the 20th century, human activities began producing ozone depleting substances. These chemicals were widely used in refrigerators, air conditioners, fire extinguishers and electronic equipment, as solvents for cleaning (including dry cleaning) and as agricultural fumigants.
Ozone depletion has been observed globally and is an international issue. Most of the emissions of ozone depleting substances occur in the Northern Hemisphere but are found in the stratosphere worldwide due to global atmospheric air circulation. The degree of depletion varies by region with minimal depletion having occurred in the tropics and the most pronounced ozone depletion occurring in Antarctica.
Significant efforts have occurred internationally to improve ozone concentrations by reducing the emissions of ozone depleting substances. According to United Nations research, full recovery of the ozone layer is estimated to occur between 2050 and 2100.
Read more about ozone depletion and its effects on New Zealand at NIWA’s website.
Last updated: 17 September 2012