In the early 1970\'s, scientists discovered that emissions of some chemicals could deplete the ozone in this layer. This would lead to more UV-B radiation to reach the Earth and to more skin cancers, eye cataracts, reduced plant and animal productivity, worse air quality and damage to plastics.
Observations of the atmosphere since then have proved depletion of ozone of about 5% per decade over middle and higher latitudes of earth and an \"Ozone hole\" annually over the Antarctic. Scientists have linked these to the increasing emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The most common of these are the Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, fire-fighting, metal cleaning, foams etc.
Alarmed by these discoveries, the United Nations Environment Programme initiated scientific assessments in 1976 and, as certainty grew, started inter governmental negotiations to take action to protect the Ozone Layer. As a result, the governments of the world first agreed upon the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985 and on the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987. The Convention laid down a general commitment to protect the Ozone Layer. The Protocol, which was strengthened thrice subsequently, mandates the phase out of the ODS according to a specified timetable by all countries. The developing countries are given a grace period. The industrialized countries agreed to meet the incremental costs of developing countries and to promote the transfer of the alternative substances and technologies.
1997 is the tenth year of the Protocol. The Protocol has succeeded brilliantly so far. The industrialized countries have almost phased out their consumption, of about a million tones, of many of the ODS by the end of 1995. The Multilateral Fund, established in 1991, has already disbursed more than US$ 500 million to developing countries and has an allocation of $540 million for 1997-99. The developing countries have so far taken up projects to phase out more than a third of their consumption, ahead of the year 1999, when their grace period ends. Atmospheric measurements by scientists have noticed the reduction in the abundance of the ODS. They predict beginning of the recovery of the Ozone Layer in a few years and a full recovery by the middle of the 21st century, if the implementation of the Protocol continues vigorously. The history of the Montreal Protocol has been an inspiring saga of international cooperation between the Governments, scientists, technologists, industry, and non-governmental organizations under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme. It is a shining example for solving international environmental problems.
(Source: United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya)
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the ozone layer, Protect-our Earth-save the ozone layer, Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs. 3/- denomination on November 15, 1997.