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Call for stronger ozone protection.

Call for stronger ozone protection

Heeding recent scientific evidence that Earth's protective ozone layer faces greater jeopardy than previously believed, 81 nations indicate they want to halt the use of certain ozone-destroying chemicals by the end of the century. At a meeting in Helsinki last month, these nations adopted a declaration calling for a complete phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the year 2000, and for a ban on the use of very destructive compounds called halons as soon as feasible.

These requests go far beyond the provisions of the existing ozone-protection treaty, called the Montreal Protocol. Adopted in 1987, this agreement requires countries to halve their production and use of CFCs by 1999 and to freeze use of halons at 1986 levels. Although the Helsinki declaration carries no force on its own, it poses goals for upcoming negotiations on revising the protocol, scheduled to begin next April.

Thirty-nine nations have ratified the Montreal Protocol so far, but many less-developed countries such as China and India have yet to join because of concerns about the costs of replacing CFCs and CFC-using equipment. The Helsinki declaration calls for provisions to assist developing countries through funding and transfer of technology.

At the meeting, countries also showed support for setting limits on other harmful chlorine-containing chemicals, such as methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride, says Eileen B. Claussen of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Past discussions have largely overlooked these compounds. But recent analysis, which Claussen presented at the Helsinki meeting, suggests a ban on CFCs alone will not stop the accumulation of chlorine in the stratosphere.
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Title Annotation:Environment
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 10, 1989
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