MONTEVIDEO - Uruguay's efforts to preserve the atmospheric ozone layer have made the country an international example of compliance with the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the U.N. resident coordinator in the South American country said.
Denise Cook spoke at a press conference in Montevideo to mark the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.
The U.N. representative pointed out that Uruguay imposed five years ago a total ban on the import of products containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and is now taking steps to cut levels of hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
"HCFCs must be eliminated in important areas such as air conditioning, and this would be the definitive change allowing a reduction of those substances' impact," she said.
Given the current momentum, the ozone layer in the atmosphere will have been restored by mid-century, an achievement that would "prevent several million cases of skin cancer and many cases of cataracts each year," Cook said.
The Montreal Protocol was signed on Sept. 16, 1987, and in 1994 the U.N. General Assembly designated the date as International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone.
Joining Cook at the ceremony were Housing and Environment Minister Eneida de Leon, Deputy Health Minister Cristina Lustemberg, tourism director Carlos Fagetti, and top environmental official Alejandro Nario.
Lustemberg said that "despite advances," Uruguay still suffers "serious consequences" from the hole in the ozone layer, mainly in the form of a high incidence of cancer.