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30th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol is perhaps the most successful international environmental treaty, signed by 197 nations and responsible for the progressive phase-down of substances that damage the ozone layer of the Earth.

“This protocol, signed in 1987 under the United Nations and driven by research done by Dr. Mario

Molina, Dr. Paul Crutzen and Dr. Sherwood Rowland marked an important change in the way of resolving environmental problems at a global level through the establishment of goals and concrete actions to limit and finally eliminate completely the production of ozone depleting substances (ODS) such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

As a result of this international treaty, in 1998 it was demonstrated that the growth of the concentration of the chlorine compounds in the ozone layer had diminished, which is why it is expected that approximately in the middle of the XXI Century, the ozone layer can recover to its original state.

Limiting ODS as a result of the implementation of the Montreal Protocol has contributed, in a parallel way, to mitigate climate change, thanks to the fact that the majority of these substances present high global warming potential (molecule by molecule, more than 100 times than the one generated by carbon dioxide).”[1]

The Montreal Protocol is also significant as for the first time, almost all the nations of the world were able to commit to a common global cause, and it is thanks to science that this problem was made evident. “This demonstrates that scientific knowledge may contribute to solving global problems”, said Dr. Molina, one of the primary scientists that supported such agreement, based on his own research carried out in the 70s on CFCs.

The progress and compliance of the agreement have been extraordinary. In the last years, the fight has not only been to recover the ozone later, but also to mitigate negative effects of climate change. For this reason, in October of 2016, member nations of the Montreal Protocol committed to ratifying the Kigali Amendment, which seeks to reduce the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and find less harmful alternatives by more than 80% for 2030.

Today, 30 years after entry into force of the Montreal Protocol, Dr. Molina says:

“The research that we completed with respect to the thinning of the ozone later in the stratosphere culminated in the Montreal Protocol. This international agreement was a great success: all the nations of the world agreed to confront this problem together, and to stop producing industrial compounds that were affecting the ozone layer. A formidable example, because the industries also ended up winning, as they started to produce alternative substances that reduced the harm instigated on the environment, with practically no significant economic losses. It has been proved that the Protocol has had an enormous impact, and that the ozone layer is recovering.

Furthermore, it is a clear testament of how society, government, academia, industry, and civil organizations can work together and come to a consensus in favor of our planet.”

[1] Molina, Sarukhán y Carabias. El cambio climático. Causas, efectos y soluciones. México: FCE, 2017



Watch video about the Montreal Protocol . Narrated by Sir David Attenborough

See related videos:

-Protocolo de Montreal: entrevista concedida a Eduard Punset para TVE, S.A., 2012
-Protocolo de Montreal: entrevista concedida a Cristina Pacheco para Canal 11, 2005
-Protocolo de Montreal: entrevista concedida a Canal Once en 1995
-Protocolo de Montreal: entrevista concedida a Televisión Educativa, SEP-DGTE, 1995





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