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Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987)

Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987)


A historical agreement made in 1987 by members of the United Nations to phase out substances that are harmful to the earth's ozone layer. The ozone layer protects life on earth by blocking out the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation . Since the 1970s scientists have documented the depletion of the ozone by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), commonly used for refrigeration and as solvents and aerosol propellants . Alarmed by this growing global trend, scientists and policymakers urged a decrease in the use and production of CFCs as well as other ozone-damaging chemicals . Ratifying the 1987 Montreal Protocol was a difficult process, however, with the European Community, the former Soviet Union, and Japan reluctant to pose strict controls on chemicals reduction. United States, Canada, Norway, and Sweden, among others, favored stronger control and negotiated with these nations to cut back and eventually phase out completely ozone-depleting substances.

An amendment of the Montreal Protocol was made in 1990 by 93 nations, including China and India, who had not previously participated, to eliminate the use of CFCs, carbon tetrachloride, and halon gases by the year 2000 and eliminate the production of methyl chloroform by 2005. Some countries, like the United States, accelerated the schedule to 1995. This 1990 amendment also established the "Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund" to help developing countries become less dependent on ozone-depleting chemicals.

In November 1992 delegates from all over the world met again in Copenhagen, Denmark, to further revise the Montreal Protocol and accelerate the phase-out of ozone-damaging substances and regulate three additional chemicals. Some of those provisions were as follows: phase out production of CFCs and carbon tetrachloride by 1996; ban halons by 1994 (the production of halogen was ended in 1994 in most industrialized nations and is expected to be halted in China, Korea, India, and the former Soviet Union by 2010); end production of methyl chloroform by 1996; control the use of hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs) and eliminate them by 2030; and increase funding for the Multilateral Fund (between $340 and $500 million by 1996).

Since the Copenhagen Amendments there have been other amendments, such as the Montreal Amendment of 1997, which according to the Journal of Environmental Law & Policy "adjusted the timetable for phaseout of some substances and modified trade restrictions, including the creation of a licensing system to attempt to decrease the black market in ozone depleting substances;" and the Beijing Amendment in 2002, which closely monitors bromochloromethane and the trade of hydrochloroflurocarbons.

As of July 2002, 175 nations have ratified the Montreal Protocol. However, while countries have volunteered to control ozone-damaging chemicals, individual companies can still produce the banned chemicals for "essential uses and for servicing certain existing equipment." The Alliance for Responsible CFC Policy in Arlington, Vermont, praised the concession for balancing environmental and economic concerns. Others, such as members of the Friends of the Earth , decry the provision as a "big loophole" that undermines the initiative of the Montreal Protocol.

See also Ozone layer depletion

[Kyung-Sun Lim ]


RESOURCES

PERIODICALS

Benedick, R.E. "Ozone Diplomacy." Issues in Science and Technology 6 (Fall 1989): 4350.

DeSombre, Elizabeth R. "The Experience of the Montreal Protocol: Particularly Remarkable, and Remarkably Particular." UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy 19, no. 1 (Summer 2001): 49.

"EU/UN: Change to Montreal Protocol Outlawing HCFCS due to Enter into Force." European Report (January 9, 2002): 515.

"Ozone-Protection Treaty Strengthened." Science News 142 (December 12, 1992): 415.

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