In a rare piece of good news for the environment, scientists from the World Meteorological Organisation announced that there were indications of a small increase in total ozone.
Experts have praised global efforts to ban man-made gases that damage the fragile high altitude screen, which shield the earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays.
“International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story … This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of tackling climate change,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told reporters.
The hole in the ozone that appears over Antarctica has also showed stopped growing bigger year on year, but experts say it will be at least a decade before it starts shrinking.
In 2006, the hole measured roughly 30 million square km, now it covers about 20 million square km – big enough for the moon to pass through.
“The development you saw during the 1990s that the ozone hole got bigger from year to year – that development has stopped, so it has leveled off,” said WMO senior scientific officer Geir Braathen.
“We think in about 2025 or thereabouts we’ll be able to say with certainty that the ozone hole is getting smaller,” he added.
In 1987, the Montreal Protocol phased out and helped ban the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, including the harmful chloroflucarbons (CFC’s), that were once widely used in refrigerators and spray cans.
The agreement, and subsequent action, will prevent 2 million cases of skin cancer annually by 2030, according to the UN Environmental Programme. It will also help advert damage to our eyes and immune systems as well as to wildlife and agriculture.
A reduction in ozone-damaging chemicals will also help the environment as these green-house gas substances are also blamed for global warming.
The report did warn that rising levels of other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had ” the potential to undermine these gains,”