Future of Humanity and Protection of Ozone Layer

Staff reporter Ham Kwang Hyok had an interview with Ri Kyong Sim, department director of the Ministry of Land and Environment Protection, on the occasion of World Ozone Day.

Ham: I think the destruction of ozone layer is one of factors threatening humanity and ecosystem.

Ri: You’re right. Ozone layer, which surrounds the earth, fulfils a special function of absorbing the sun’s ultraviolet rays and plays a role of “ultraviolet rays umbrella” that protects all organisms on this planet.

If the ultraviolet rays reach the earth freely due to the destruction of ozone layer, they would cause various diseases such as skin cancer and cataract and exert negative influence on hereditary and immune systems of organisms.

According to data, 1% depletion of the existing ozone layer will increase the number of skin cancer patients by 4%, and 20% increase of ultraviolet rays radiation due to the destruction of ozone layer will reduce the global grain output by 20%. Every year, 100 000 to 200 000 species of creatures become extinct, which is closely related to the destruction of ozone layer.

Therefore, protection of ozone layer is of great significance in maintaining human life and biodiversity.

Ham: Please tell me about international efforts for the protection of ozone layer.

Ri: Such chemical substances as Freon gas or carbon tetrachloride were artificially made in the course of promoting humans’ well-being in the past, and they made ozone layer thinner and even produced a hole.

In 1974, it was scientifically proved that Freon gas released in the air has an influence on ozone layer depletion. Accordingly, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer was concluded in Vienna, Austria, in March 1985, and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone Layer in Montreal of Canada in September 1987. They have been revised and supplemented several times.

In October 2016, the Montreal Protocol was supplemented with the Kigali Amendment, which set the timetable for phasing out the production and use of some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which have an influence on the global warming among the materials which are used instead of ozone layer-depleting substances, and the list of controlled materials.

The amendment is expected to gradually reduce or scrap the production and use of some HFCs and even decrease their influence on the climate change so as to avoid up to 0.4°C of global temperature rise by the end of the century.

The UN set September 16, the day when the Montreal Protocol was adopted, as World Ozone Day and organizes international events to protect ozone layer on this occasion every year.

Ham: Please tell me about the activities for protecting ozone layer in the DPRK.

Ri: In the response to the international efforts, our country is paying close attention to the work for protecting ozone layer.

It acceded to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol in 1995 and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in 2017, and is making efforts to implement the international conventions in close contact with relevant international bodies.

The Law of the DPRK on Prevention of Air Pollution, amended and supplemented in 2020, stipulates that industrial establishments, units and citizens shall minimize the production, import, sale and use of ozone layer-depleting substances and the facilities or goods containing them and that, in case of the need for producing, importing, selling and using the above-said materials, they shall be subject to the approval of land and environment protection institution.

The country is conducting various activities to give publicity to the international moves against the use of ozone layer-depleting substances and refrigerants with a high index indicative of global warming, the technical problems arising in the selection and use of refrigerants and relevant common knowledge, and the introduction of science and technology conducive to protecting ozone later and preventing global warming.

Our country, which regards environmental protection as an important work for the people’s health and safety, will continue fulfil its international duty in the work for protecting ozone layer.

Ham: Thanks for your time.

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