The ozone layer over Belgium, Britain, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia has dwindled to levels nearly as low as those found over the Antarctic, the European Space Agency said last week. Measurements taken in the Netherlands showed that ozone levels were about two-thirds below the norm for this time of year. At a conference in Beijing last week, the U.N. said that the world’s ozone layer would start to heal in the next few years, after years of depletion from human-made chemicals. But non-governmental organizations slammed the U.N. for not moving faster, particularly on phasing out methyl bromide, a fumigant about 60 times more destructive to the ozone layer than CFCs used in refrigerators and air conditioners. Developing countries say they need about $700 million in assistance to help switch away from ozone-eating chemicals, but developed countries are only pledging about $300 million.
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