As you know the ozone layer is part of Earth’s stratosphere and it protects us from the sun’s harmful rays. In the 1970s, scientists made a startling discovery that chemical substances used in air conditioners, refrigerators, and aerosol cans were harming the ozone layer. In 1985, a huge hole was discovered in the ozone layer over the Antarctica continent. Because of this hole in the ozone layer, alarming levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation were able to reach the Earth’s surface and cause harm to the Earth’s inhabitants. The UN and its member countries realized that this ozone layer hole had to be dealt with and concrete measures needed to be taken before it was too late.
About Montreal Protocol:
In response to this environmental crisis, the UN passed the Montreal Protocol. This protocol is a multilateral environmental agreement by the UN; it was specifically crafted for the management of the production, emissions, and consumption of ozone depleting substances. When these substances are released into the atmosphere, these man-made chemicals harm the stratospheric ozone layer. The ozone layer is the Earth’s protective shield that absorbs most of the harmful levels of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation to protect the Earth and all life on it. Some of these Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) include Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), carbon tetrachloride, hydro Bromo Fluorocarbons (HBFCs), Methyl Chloroform, and halons. If Earth’s protective shield is gone, it will have devastating effects on humankind.
This protocol was adopted on 16 September 1987 and put into action on 1 January 1989. This protocol has been revised and these revisions happened:
- 1990 London
- 1991 Nairobi
- 1992 Copenhagen
- 1993 Bangkok
- 1995 Vienna
- 1997 Montreal
- 1998 Australia
- 1999 Beijing
- 2016 Kigali
To the present date, this protocol is the only UN treaty to be ratified by every country. That means all 198 UN Member States unanimously voted in favour of this agreement. In the beginning, the protocol was named the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Key Points of the Montreal Protocol:
- According to this protocol, the production and consumption of the various ozone depleting substances have to be phased down in a step by step manner. There are different timetables for developing and developed countries so that each country can manage this task based on its capacity. Both these types of countries have responsibilities which are binding so that they can be held responsible. There is a time limit which will be used to measure the country’s response. They also have equal and different responsibilities
- All the countries have their responsibilities related to phasing out different ozone depleting substances, annual reporting of the data, national licensing systems for controlling ozone depleting substances imports, exports, and others, and control of ozone depleting substances trade. An amendment or an adjustment can also be added to the protocol in the case of any discoveries in the field of science, technology, and economics.
- The Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol is the governing body of the protocol and the Open-Ended Working Group provides technical support to the protocol with their annual meetings. The Ozone Secretariat assists with the protocol. The Ozone Secretariat is based at the UN Environment Programme and its headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya.
Provisions of the Montreal Protocol:
The Montreal Protocol’s provisions include control measures, calculation of control levels, control of trade with non-parties, a special situation of developing countries, reporting of data, non-compliance, and technical assistance.
- Ozone Depleting Substances in the Montreal Protocol:
The ozone depleting substances are regulated by the Montreal Protocol. They include CFCs, halons, other fully halogenated CFCs, methyl chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, HCFCs, methyl bromide, and HFCs.
- The Multilateral Fund:
The Multilateral Fund was established in 1991 under Article 10. It was created to give financial and technical support to developing countries whose annual per capita ozone depleting substances consumption and production are less than 0.3 kg. This fund’s activities are put into effect by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank.
- Status of India to implement the Montreal Protocol:
India became a signatory of the Montreal Protocol in 1992. India comes under Article 5 Country which is why it received assistance from the Multilateral Fund. The Montreal Protocol comes under the Ministry of Climate Change, Forest and Environment in India. The ministry launched the Ozone Cell to enforce the protocol’s provisions. Also, the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000 was organised by the ministry. These rules say that it is prohibited to use CFCs in the manufacture of products. There are several restrictions on producers, sellers, and importers of ozone depleting substances under these rules.
Achievement of the Montreal Protocol:
- After the Montreal Protocol was implemented, 98 percent of ozone depleting substances globally have been phased out compared to 1990 levels to date. Between 1990 and 2010, it is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by approximately 135 gigatons of carbon dioxide. In layman’s terms, that is equivalent to about 11 gigatons a year. The protocol also helped in protecting the global climate ecosystem since most ozone depleting substances are greenhouse gases. As everybody knows greenhouse gases are a large contributor to climate change.
- According to a UN study of Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion (2018), the ozone layer is improving by approximately 1-3 percent per decade. With the limited use of HCFCs, emissions of up to 105 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to greenhouse gases have been prevented. This stops the global temperature from increasing by 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. Global temperatures must be stopped from rising since they can have negative effects on humankind, the animal world, and the underwater world.
- Over the Antarctic continent, the hole in the ozone layer is expected to close up slowly by the 2060s. It will go back to what it used to be in the 1980s and hopefully give time for the Earth to recover. The ozone layer over the northern hemisphere and mid-latitude is on the mend by the 2030s. The layer over the Polar and the southern hemisphere will be restored by the 2060s. Overall, the protocol seems to be working and the countries are trying their best to contribute.
The Montreal Protocol is one of the most popular and effective environmental agreements. With everything the parties have achieved since 1987, this protocol is a prime example of the accomplishments of international cooperation.
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