Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

What is it?

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was first drafted in 1985. It was then called the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. This only asked for cooperation in research; it didn't limit CFC's in any way. In 1986, amendments were made that limited CFC's. The name was then changed to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The treaty added gradual phase down of CFC production in 1987. Many more amendments were made to strengthen the treaty in the 1990's: London (1990), Copenhagen (1992), Vienna (1995), Montreal (1997), and Beijing (1999). This treaty became one of the first international environmental agreements.

Why was it needed?

montreal-effective-chlorine.gifThis treated was based off of halogenated hydrocarbons that contain either chlorine of bromine. These substances harm the ozone layer. However, substances containing only fluorine were found to be harmless to the ozone layer.

Chemists at the University of California began studying the affects of CFC's in the atmosphere. They found that they remained in the atmosphere for a long time because they were stable enough to remain there for 50-100 years, before being broken down by ultraviolet radiation. Once these substances were broken down, they released a chlorine atom. These chlorine atoms were thought to be the cause of the ozone depletion.

The chart on the right shows the different things that were depleting the ozone layer. They were all rising dramatically from about 1965 until 1992. CFC's (in yellow) contributed a lot to this increase. The red dashed line shows what would have happened if there was no Protocol put in place. The green dashed line shows what is predicted to happen in the future with the Montreal Protocol put in place.

Who is regulating and enforcing it?

The Ministry for Economic Development is responsible for the Act and its regulations. However, the Ozone Layer Protection Policy is managed by the Ministry for the environment, which is helped by other relevant government departments.

Was it successful?

"Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol."
-Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations

"The Protocol has been a resounding success. The effect can be seen in the leveling off of chlorine compounds in the atmosphere and the beginning of their decline."
-Richard Stolarski, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

The Montreal Protocol was a very successful treaty. It is responsible for eliminating about 97 percent of gases, used in every day items such refrigerant and cooling systems, that were depleting part of our atmosphere. Developed countries have eliminated the production and consumption of nearly 99 percent of harmful substances due to the Montreal Protocol. Developing countries are moving at a slower pace, but they have met their goals ahead of schedule. Developing countries have worked to eliminate CFC's by 72 percent.

Ozone Recovery Video Click the link on the left to view a video of the ozone hole recovery in the past and the projected recovery for the future. This video shows the successes that the Montreal Protocol has accomplished.