Basotho urged to protect the ozone layer

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Mimi Machakaire

LESOTHO joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer amid strengthened efforts by the government to phase-out the remaining ozone depleting substances.

Although the commemoration was held on 29 September in Maseru, the day is annually observed globally on 16 September. The urgent need to protect the ozone layer came in the 80s after some scientific studies discovered that the ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, that protects the earth from harmful portion of the rays of the sun, was in danger from some harmful substances.

Ozone depleting substances include Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in the manufacturing of aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams and packaging materials, Halon fire extinguishers and Methyl Bromide used in pesticides that control pests particularly in the agriculture sector.

If not eliminated, these and many others will destroy the ozone shield that preserve all life on earth and cause diseases such as skin cancers and eye cataracts, which are common in Lesotho.

Scientists have predicted that with continued efforts to protect the ozone shield, up to two million cases of skin cancer may be prevented by 2030. Robust activities, including the use of technologies that reduces emissions is also expected to put the recovery of the ozone layer on-track, protecting life on earth and saving the world more than USD 2 trillion in health benefits by 2050.

The Montreal Protocol, which aims to ensure countries, globally, work together in implementing efforts to protect and preserve the ozone layer, was agreed upon on 16 September 1987 and entered into force on 1 January 1989.  Lesotho ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1994. It is (the Protocol), widely hailed as the most successful environmental policy of our generation.

This year’s commemoration theme is: Caring for all life under the sun.

Speaking at the commemoration, the Minister of Energy and Meteorology, Mr Mokoto Hloaele said the success of international efforts to protect the ozone layer provided reason for celebration.

“This year’s celebration marks the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol after in 1987 in Canada, the nations were confronted with a harsh reality requiring decisive action of an unprecedented scale,” Mr Hloaele said.

He explained this led to the signing on the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol and marked a turning point in global co-operation in environment and climate-change.

In Lesotho we are working hard to eliminate all the remaining ozone depleting substances within the set time-frames and to ensure we strengthen our borders from the smuggling of harmful substances,” Mr Hloaele said.

He explained that already, more than 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions have been averted globally through activities that are in line with the implementation of the Montreal Protocol. This success is five times the target reduction of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

“My ministry cannot help but look back with a sense of accomplishment at what has been achieved under the Montreal Protocol, particularly in Lesotho in the past two decades. Cooperating with other countries, the world will never be the same again as we have contributed to eliminate production and consumption of a significant group of ozone-depleting substances.”

Mr Hloaele said it was crucial for Lesotho to enforce robust control management systems in the import and export licensing sector which will facilitate the ozone depleting substances phase-out and in addition, prevent Lesotho from facing incidents of illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances.

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