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Environment Biting Back - Hard

Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said the massive hole in the ozone layer showed how environmental pollution could leave a dangerous legacy - long after the pollution has been controlled.

Ms Fitzsimons said she believed the record ozone hole over Antarctica, which covers 29 million square kilometres, has not yet peaked and that the world should bear this in mind with other issues such as global warming.

"The Montreal Protocol of 1987 stipulated that the production and consumption of compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere - chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and carbon tetrachloride - were to be phased out by 2000," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"Yet well over a decade after the signing of this international agreement, and after the deadline to phase out the offending chemicals, the ozone hole is continuing to grow rapidly. This is an excellent example of the lengthy reaction times of the environment to pollution, even after the pollution has been controlled.

"The CFCs we released in the 80s and 90s are still up there actively destroying ozone," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said the example of the growing ozone hole did not bode well for other environmental issues which were just beginning to rear their heads, such as global warming.

"As with ozone depletion, there will be a long period after we control greenhouse emissions before temperatures and sea levels stop rising," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"I fear we are not learning from these lessons until it is too late. Here we are in the early 21st Century in the sci-fi situation of having to wear protective clothes simply to go outdoors.

"And the world is waiting until climate change is doing real damage before taking action to limit our greenhouse gases."

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 440 090


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