Ratification and Ozone-depleting gas trends

Ratification and Ozone-depleting gas trends

    • As of September 16, 2009, all countries in the United Nations have ratified the original Montreal Protocol, Timor-Leste being the last country to ratify the agreement. Fewer countries have ratified each consecutive amendment. Only 154 countries have signed the Beijing Amendment. In the United States, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (P.L. 101-549) contain provisions for implementing the Montreal Protocol, as well as explicit, separate authority for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyā€ˇ to regulate ozone depleting chemicals.

    Ozone-depleting gas trends

    • Since the Montreal Protocol came into effect, the atmospheric concentrations of the most important chlorofluorocarbons and related chlorinated hydrocarbons have either leveled off or decreased . Halon concentrations have continued to increase, as the halons presently stored in fire extinguishers are released, but their rate of increase has slowed and their abundances are expected to begin to decline by about 2020. Also, the concentration of the HCFCs increased drastically at least partly because for many uses CFCs (e.g. used as solvents or refrigerating agents) were substituted with HCFCs. While there have been reports of attempts by individuals to circumvent the ban, e.g. by smuggling CFCs from undeveloped to developed nations, the overall level of compliance has been high.

    • In consequence, the Montreal Protocol has often been called the most successful international environmental agreement to date. In a 2001 report, NASA found the ozone thinning over Antarctica had remained the same thickness for the previous three years. However in 2003 the ozone hole grew to its second largest size. The most recent (2006) scientific evaluation of the effects of the Montreal Protocol states, "The Montreal Protocol is working: There is clear evidence of a decrease in the atmospheric burden of ozone-depleting substances and some early signs of stratospheric ozone recovery."Unfortunately, the hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs, and hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are now thought to contribute to anthropogenic global warming. On a molecule-for-molecule basis, these compounds are up to 10,000 times more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide.

    • The Montreal Protocol currently calls for a complete phase-out of HCFCs by 2030, but does not place any restriction on HFCs. Since the CFCs themselves are equally powerful as greenhouse gases, the mere substitution of HFCs for CFCs does not significantly increase the rate of anthropogenic global warming, but over time a steady increase in their use could increase the danger that human activity will change the climate.

Last modified: Friday, 30 March 2012, 4:41 PM