UNEP and WMO Call Montreal Protocol ‘A Success’
On September 10th, 2014, UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization released the Assessment for Decision-Makers of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014. The two environmental organizations have called the reconstitution of the ozone layer a success story for human health and for international environmental governance.
The Assessment for Decision-Makers reports that the agreements under the Montreal Protocol have led to decreases in the types of gases that caused the gaps in the ozone layer during the 20th century. These gases, which include CFCs, were banned or limited in their use according to the various tenets of the Protocol. The benchmark for ozone health is if the layer can be reconstituted to 1980 levels. According to this report, the ozone will return to 1980 levels in much of the world by 2050, with progress in the Antarctic – where depletion is most severe – coming a bit more slowly.
Returning the ozone layer will have a significant impact on human health. UNEP and the WMO predict that global efforts to reduce ozone-depleting gases will end up preventing 2 million cases of skin cancer annually by 2030.
The Montreal Protocol is a clear example of how concerted international effort can bring about necessary reductions in industrial gases. However, it is important to remember that CFCs and their ilk had replacement chemicals become available shortly after the implementation of the Protocol. So while governance clearly played a role in the success at Montreal, private chemical enterprise contributed greatly to the success of the mission. If the international community is to reach an effective comprehensive agreement on climate change, private interests, specifically those generating energy and heavy manufacturing, have to be part of the solution.
The full report will be released in early 2015.