Ozone Depletion and Climate Change

Ozone depletion and climate change have usually been thought of as environmental issues with little in common other than their global scope. The climate system involves the atmosphere - specifically processes within the troposphere, such as air circulation patterns - land surfaces and oceans. The ozone layer is found in the stratosphere, which is the layer of the atmosphere immediately above the troposphere.

Climate change is concerned with how carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases are altering the global climate system. Ozone depletion, on the other hand, involves how certain industrially produced chemicals containing chlorine or bromine are damaging the earth's protective stratospheric ozone layer. However, as the global community has come to understand more about these issues, and the complex physical and chemical processes that drive them, we have become increasingly aware of the ways in which actions to address each are interlinked. The most obvious linkage between efforts to mitigate ozone depletion and climate change is the fact that certain ozone-depleting substances (ODS) such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are also powerful greenhouse gases.

In addition, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other halocarbons, which do not deplete the ozone layer but are greenhouse gases, are currently commonly used as alternatives to CFCs and HCFCs. This illustrates the need to consider the implications for both issues when choosing alternatives to ODS, and to consider environmental impact as an important factor, in addition to technical and financial feasibility.

An infographic on Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) containing two creative elements.

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Long description of infographic

An infographic on Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) containing two creative elements.

First is an image of a home showing items and applications containing HFCs such as

Another important linkage involves the way that ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases alter certain processes in the atmosphere so as to enhance both global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion. These changes result in a warming of the troposphere and a cooling of the stratosphere. Stratospheric cooling is a key factor in the development of ozone holes over the poles.

It is clear that actions to mitigate global warming can have positive effects on ozone depletion and vice versa. However, care must be taken to avoid solutions to one problem that make the other worse.

  • foam insulation in the attic
  • bedroom dehumidifier
  • air conditioning system in the vehicle parked in the garage
  • portable floor air conditioning unit in the living room
  • the kitchen’s fire extinguisher and refrigerator; and
  • external air conditioning and heat pump unit

Second is an image depicting the earth with 19% being separated to show that an expected increase from 2% of global GHG emissions to 19% by 2050, if no immediate action is taken by the international community.

Additional text indicating that you can help to reduce or minimize emissions of HFCs by:

  • Hiring qualified professionals to repair your appliances
  • Disposing of your used appliances properly
  • Seeking out HFC-free products; fortunately, climate friendly alternatives to HFCs exist for your home.

Environment Canada is moving forward with the development of regulatory measures to limit the growth of HFCs, the world’s most powerful and fastest-growing greenhouse gases.

 

Another important linkage involves the way that ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases alter certain processes in the atmosphere so as to enhance both global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion. These changes result in a warming of the troposphere and a cooling of the stratosphere. Stratospheric cooling is a key factor in the development of ozone holes over the poles.

It is clear that actions to mitigate global warming can have positive effects on ozone depletion and vice versa. However, care must be taken to avoid solutions to one problem that make the other worse.

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