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The United Nations finally has some good news about the climate. Well, sort of.

According to a report released by U.N. scientists on Wednesday, the ozone layer, which has been thinning since the late 1970's, is showing signs of recovery.

Recovery in the ozone layer since 1979 / NASA

Scientists say that the implementation of the U.N.'s 1987 Montreal Protocol has contributed to a statistically significant increase in the stratospheric ozone layer,  the thin layer of gas that protects the earth from U.V. rays linked with skin cancer. Thanks to the reduction of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) found in refrigerants and aerosol cans the ozone is predicted to return to 1980 levels by mid-century.

This will prevent 2 million additional cases of skin cancer a year starting in 2030.

U.N. Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner heralded the monumental success.

The Montreal Protocol - one of the world's most successful environmental treaties - has protected the stratospheric ozone layer and avoided enhanced UV radiation reaching the earth's surface."

Chemist Mario Molina, one of the co-authors of a 1974 study predicting ozone depletion, echoed this sentiment in an interview with the Associated Press.

It's a victory for diplomacy and for science and for the fact that we were able to work together."

Okay, so it looks like a strong scientific consensus coupled with worldwide action can have an important effect on reducing negative effects on the planet, right?

Ironically, it turns out that the substances being used to replace ozone-harming CFCs are contributing to global warming, MIT scientist Susan Solomon told the AP. Greenhouse gases are repairing the ozone layer while simultaneously serving as one of the major causes of global climate change.

Fixing global climate problems is a two steps forward, one step back affair.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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