Letter: Alarming or alarmist? The statistics of ozone depletion

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report on the thinning of the ozone layer over Britain makes sober reading ('Ozone layer over Britain shrinks', 23 April). It ought to emphasise to all of us how ur-

gent the task is of phasing out

the use of ozone-destroying substances on the most rapid timetable possible.

The Government, however, seems to remain complacent. In February, when it was already becoming clear that ozone levels were dropping abnormally, the Secretary of State for the Environment told me in a parliamentary answer that levels were 'within previously observed ranges for the time of year'. They weren't; and the Nasa evidence now demonstrates that all too clearly.

Still, however, the Government seems prepared to go along with inadequate targets for tackling the problem. It appears to agree with a 2014 date for the final phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which is too late. It seems to believe that a 50 per cent reduction in methyl bromide is sufficient, whereas other countries are opting for a complete ban. And it is not taking sufficiently stringent action to prevent the release of existing CFCs into the atmosphere from industrial cooling units and refrigeration plants.

None of this demonstrates the sense of urgency that is required. Inadequate targets, insufficient regulation and bland complacency are not going to protect the environmental needs of our poor fragile world. It is high time the Government woke up to the sheer scale and importance of the problem.

Yours sincerely,

CHRIS SMITH

MP for Islington South and

Finsbury (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

23 April

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