When world leaders come together to solve environmental problems, it actually can make a difference.

A new report from a United Nations-backed panel of experts found that the hole in the ozone layer is on track to close completely within four decades, as long as current policies to phase out ozone depleting substances remain in place.

“Ozone action sets a precedent for climate action. Our success in phasing out ozone-eating chemicals shows us what can and must be done – as a matter of urgency – to transition away from fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gases and so limit temperature increase,” World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said in a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) press release emailed to EcoWatch.

The ozone layer is important because it protects plants and animals from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, as The Washington Post explained. UV-B rays in particular can cause cancer and eye damage in humans and make it harder for plants to grow and store carbon dioxide.

In the 1980s, however, scientists observed that the ozone layer was thinning because of the release of ozone depleting chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were commonly used as solvents and refrigerants, The Guardian noted. To address this, world leaders agreed to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987, according to the UNEP. It helped lead to the phase out of 99 percent of these substances, and has achieved the backing of every country on Earth. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist David Fahey told The Guardian it should be considered “the most successful environmental treaty in history.”

Read the full article about the ozone layer by Olivia Rosane at EcoWatch.