The Montreal Protocol, a “success story”, which should be taken as a model

The Montreal Protocol, a

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Madrid, Sep 16 (EFE) .- The Montreal Protocol, on substances that damage the ozone layer, is an environmental “case of success” that “should be taken as a model to solve the current climate emergency” according to experts consulted by Efeverde with occasion of the “International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer”.

Only two years after the discovery of the “ozone hole” in 1985, the Montreal Protocol (1987) was signed through which governments and industry pledged to reduce the production and consumption of substances that affected this vitally important stratospheric layer. for life on Earth, by filtering ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.

The protocol came into force in 1989 and banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), industrial gases used in aerosols and refrigeration, considered “perfect molecules” for their long durability and low toxicity, but which turned out to be the main source of ozone destruction.


The agreement showed that “it is possible for the whole planet to agree” to solve a “global” problem and in the same way it could be done with similar emergencies “such as climate change,” the Mexican Nobel Prize in Chemistry explained to Efeverde. Mario Molina.

Molina shared this award with colleagues Sherwood Rowland and Paul Crutzen for their discovery of how industrial CFCs affect the ozone layer.

In his opinion, just as there were substitutes for CFC compounds then, in the case of greenhouse gases there are already “technologies cheap enough to replace fossil fuels”.


For this reason, he regrets that “climate change has become politicized” and criticizes the “enormous lack of responsibility” on the part of “populist” leaders who “are not considering the future or scientific consensus.”

For the Director of Sustainability of Fundación Alternativas, José Luis de la Cruz, the key to the success of the Montreal Protocol lies in the fact that it affected a specific sector of the industry.

However, acting against the climate crisis means “absolutely revolutionizing the energy and economic system”, and that includes introducing changes in consumption, production and mobility habits, something more complicated.

In the same sense, Natalia Calvo, professor of the Department of Earth Physics and Astrophysics of the Complutense University of Madrid, has expressed herself, for whom the success of the agreement also lies in its monitoring, which has allowed “the protocol and the subsequent amendments are met “.

Thus, more than three decades after the agreements, the last report of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) commissioned by the UN in 2018 recorded for the first time a decrease in the ozone hole over Antarctica.

Calvo, one of the three Spanish experts who participated in its drafting, has assured Efeverde that, if the protocol had not been applied, by 2060 the ozone values ​​in the stratosphere would be so low that it could be considered that “there would be no ozone layer on Earth “.

This would have meant that in 2020 Spain would have an ultraviolet index two points above the one considered “extreme” and, in 2050, it would exceed 25 points, which would cause “skin burns after five minutes in the street without sun protection.”

The latest projections predict that, at least until 2050, the ozone layer in Antarctica will not recover to pre-1980 levels, while globally it will not be achieved until at least 2070.

The current ozone hole “continues to be very important” and the concentration of chlorinated compounds “very high”, although they no longer continue to be emitted, added chemist Daniel Leguina, from the Institute for Research in Biodiversity and the Environment of the University of Navarra .

“Society must be aware of the time lag between the application of measures and the obtaining of positive results” which, if in the case of the ozone layer has meant a lag of about 80 years, in the case of climate change, predicts , it will be “centuries and even millennia”.

(c) EFE Agency


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