Interview with Sydney
How has the Montreal Protocol helped?
The Montreal Protocol on the Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer is a multilateral environmental agreement that has now achieved near universal ratification. 189 countries have ratified this agreement. This global accord lays down the international and national legal obligations that each country has to follow. Such obligations include the actions leading to prevention of the emissions of the Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and finally elimination of their production and consumption. Importantly, it also includes the trade restrictions on ODS and the mechanism to help the developing countries whose economies are fledgling. ODS are harmful to the stratosphere but they in the past have served as developmental engines for number of applications like preservation of the food and vaccines. Hence, the Protocol ensured that transition away from ODS does not adversely affect the developmental process, particularly in the developing countries.
The Protocol included the strict targets to phase out the production and consumption of ODS. As a result of the cooperative spirit and the commitment as well as the financial mechanism agreed in the Protocol to assist the developing countries and countries that have their economies in transition, all the countries have been on the target to eliminate ODS. Today, for example, the global production and consumption of CFCs, is down by 90% from 1 million tons per annum to only about 80,000 MT annually. Developing countries have already halved the consumption and production of CFCs and are dot on target. Even the ‘fast growing’ economies like China and India have complied with the Protocol targets. Till now nearly US$ 2 Billion has been provided to the developing countries for enabling their compliance with the Protocol.
UNEP’s OzonAction Programme helped the developing countries at every stage of their participation in the Protocol and even assisting them in understanding the science and environmental impacts of the Ozone Layer depletion and also in encouraging them in joining the Protocol.
Due to such efforts, the Protocol is succeeding and is sparkling good news amidst discouraging trends in many other global environmental agreements. I say that the Protocol is “succeeding” and not yet a “success” because there is still much work left to do before the job is finally done, however it is on track and ozone depleting chemicals are being phased out by developing and developed countries alike.
The Protocol has resulted in significant net benefits for human health, fisheries, and agriculture and building materials. Technological innovation driven by the Protocol is creating additional economic and environmental benefits. By implementing this treaty alone, the world is avoiding 1.5 million cases of skin cancer, 330,000 deaths due to skin cancer and 129 million cases of cataracts. Benefits to agricultural production are estimated to be about US$ 190 billions by 2060. Total economic benefits are estimated to the US$ 459 billion as compared to the cost of implementation of US$ 235 billion – a significant net economic benefit.