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Ozone hole, filling up now: What this means for climate action

GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


According to a scientific assessment, the ozone 'hole' that was once considered the greatest threat to life on Earth is expected to be fully repaired by 2066. The ozone layer was expected to recover to 1980 values by 2066 over Antarctica, by 2045 over the Arctic, and by 2040 for the rest of the world.


Ozone Layer

  • Ozone, a molecule made of three oxygen atoms, is primarily found in the upper atmosphere, also known as the, stratosphere between 10 and 50 km above the Earth's surface. 
  • Despite being referred to as a layer, ozone is present in the atmosphere in low concentrations.
  • Even in areas where it is most concentrated, there are only a few ozone molecules for every million-air molecules. 
  • However, these molecules perform a crucial function by absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, protecting life on Earth from the effects of UV rays such as skin cancer and other diseases. 

Ozone hole

  • The term "ozone hole" is misleading, as it is not a hole but rather a region in the stratosphere above Antarctica where ozone concentration is greatly reduced during certain months.
  • While depletion also occurs in other regions of the stratosphere, a unique combination of meteorological and chemical conditions that occur in Antarctica during September, October, and November exacerbate the problem in that area specifically.

Causes of Ozone hole

  • Ozone molecules are continually formed and destroyed in the stratosphere. 
  • However, when they come into contact with bromine and chlorine atoms, the ozone molecules are destroyed.
  • One chlorine atom can destroy over 100,000 ozone molecules. 
  • Some compounds, called ozone-depleting substances, release chlorine or bromine when exposed to UV radiation in the stratosphere, causing ozone molecules to be destroyed at a faster rate than they are created, leading to a hole in the ozone layer
  • During the 1980s, a significant decrease in ozone concentration was observed, particularly over the South Pole. 
  • This was later connected to the specific weather patterns in Antarctica, including temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction.
  • The largest ozone hole over Antarctica is typically seen in September, October, and November.
  • Further studies and satellite measurements confirmed this depletion and scientists identified industrial chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as the likely cause, which were used extensively in the air-conditioning, refrigeration, paints, and furniture industries.
  • This can lead to damaged crops and increased health risks such as skin cancer and cataracts for exposed populations.

Steps taken to fix the Ozone hole

  • The Montreal Protocol, ratified by 198 nations including all UN members, phased out ozone-depleting substances to protect the ozone layer.
  • The reduction of ozone-depleting chemicals also has a significant impact on climate change as these chemicals are potent greenhouse gases, some of which are hundreds or even thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide, the primary cause of global warming. 
  • Compliance with the Montreal Protocol is projected to prevent 0.5 to 1 degree Celsius of warming by 2050. 
  • This is because if the use of CFCs and similar chemicals had continued to grow, the world would have been 0.5 to 1 degree Celsius warmer than it currently is. 
  • The Montreal Protocol was amended in 2016 to include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which, while not damaging to the ozone layer, are powerful greenhouse gases. 
  • The Kigali Amendment,2016 aims to eliminate 80-90% of HFCs by 2050, preventing an additional 0.3 to 0.5 degree Celsius of warming by century's end.
  • The success of the Montreal Protocol in repairing the ozone hole is often offered as a model for climate action
  • It is argued that emissions of greenhouse gases can also similarly be curtailed to arrest rapidly rising global temperatures.


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Fact Files

National Green Tribunal (NGT) 

  • The NGT, established in 2010as per the National Green Tribunal Act is a specialised judicial body equipped with expertise solely for the purpose of adjudicating environmental cases in the country.
  • It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues to provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts
  • The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same. 
  • Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible. 
  • New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai shall be the other four places of sitting of the Tribunal.
  • Composition: The Tribunal is headed by the Chairperson who sits in the Principal Bench and has at least ten but not more than twenty judicial members and at least ten but not more than twenty expert members.
  • Any person seeking relief and compensation for environmental damage involving subjects in the legislations mentioned in Schedule I of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 may approach the Tribunal.
  • The statutes in Schedule I are:
  1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
  7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
  • The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving a substantial question relating to environment and the question
  • Additionally, any person aggrieved by an order/direction of any of the Appellate Authorities under the legislations mentioned above can also challenge them before the NGT.
  • Aggrieved parties may approach the Tribunal in person by submitting an application in the required format.
  • The Tribunal is an open court and its proceedings can be attended in person.
  • Language: English
  • Decisions of the Tribunal are binding.
  • The Tribunal’s orders are enforceable as the powers vested are the same as in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
  • The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • The Tribunal has powers to review its own decisions
  • If this fails, the decision can be challenged before the Supreme Court within 90 days.

What does ‘shadow banning’ of social media posts mean? 

  • The term "shadow ban" refers to the belief that social media companies are secretly limiting the visibility of certain postswhether this perception is true or not. 
  • The term is also sometimes used more broadly to describe dissatisfaction with lack of attention on social mediaeven if no covert moderation is suspected.
  • Shadow bans are a advertisers, users, and advocates concern for of free speech because they enforce unannounced rules and manipulate content flow without accountability. 
  • Those affected have no means of recourse
  • This issue highlights societal divisions and the challenges tech companies face in managing the vast amount of online content, as there is a lack of agreement on desired outcomes and distrust of those managing it.
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Should a caller’s name be displayed on your phone? Why telcos say no 

  • Telecom operators have expressed concerns that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) proposal to display caller namescalled Caller Name Presentation (CNAP), could compromise privacy and may be difficult to implement due to technical limitations with certain phones in the Indian market.

Caller Name Presentation (CNAP)

  • In November 2020, the TRAI released a document asking for feedback on the possibility of introducing CNAP, a feature that would reveal the identity of the caller to the person being called. 
  • The purpose of this feature is to give individuals the ability to make informed decisions about answering calls and to potentially reduce unwanted calls such as harassment and spam. 
  • Currently, there are some apps that offer similar services likeTruecaller but these are all third-party apps that rely on user-generated data. 
  • There is currently no unified solution offered by telecom companies.

Models of CNAP

The TRAI has suggested four potential ways to implement the CNAP feature –

  1. Telcos would manage a CNAP database of their own subscribers, and when a user on one network calls a user on another network, the receiving telco would retrieve the caller's information from the database. 
  2. However, telcos would need to update their current network infrastructure to support this method.
  3. Like the first model, but in this case, the calling operator would allow the receiving operator to access their CNAP database.
  4. A third party would operate a centralized databaseand the receiving operator would access it to retrieve and display the caller's information.
  5. Each telco would keep a copy of a centralized database operated by a third party.


  • The technology used for interconnection between telcos, time-division multiplexing (TDM)does not support CNAP and there are no standards or ready solutions for CNAP on 2G/3G networks. 
  • Even if a solution is developed, it would require extensive testing before deployment, and some legacy network nodes would not be able to support it. 
  • Additionally, not all handsets can support CNAPas there is no record of feature phones being enabled with it and even 4G smart feature phones do not support it.


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