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Lessons from the stratospheric ozone layer protection for climate


Ozone protection was the result of professional confidence and sacrifice; brilliant interdisciplinary science and the good fortune of an ozone hole with no explanation other than manufactured fluorocarbons; and industry and government leadership inspired by the realization that life on earth was in jeopardy. In response to the 1974 warning by Dr. Mario Molina and Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were destroying the stratospheric ozone layer, almost 100 ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) have been phased out under the auspices of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol). This paper describes how the United Nations, national governments, citizens, and companies came together pragmatically for the public good. It describes seminal events where individuals and organizational leaders set the stage, came to agreement, and implemented the technology that protects stratospheric ozone and climate. These individuals, who became “Ozone Champions,” often acted alone and with great courage when they were sideways and crossways to the organizations where they were employed. This paper also describes how practical lessons from the successful Montreal Protocol can guide our global society and how stakeholders can positively influence each other to achieve comprehensive atmospheric protection—including halting climate change. The final section considers how the approaches of the Montreal Protocol can dismiss skepticism and embrace technical optimism in implementing cleaner coal and carbon sequestration, even as society aggressively pursues low-carbon renewable energy, energy efficiency, and a transition to sustainable lifestyles.

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  1. 1.

    The Register of International Treaties and Other Agreements in the Field of Environment ( catalogues agreements that number between 225 and 300, depending on the criteria. These agreements concern air, animals, biological diversity, chemicals, climate change, desertification, energy, impact assessment, fauna and flora, fisheries, forests, health and environment, heritage, industrial accidents, landscape, liability and compensation, marine environment, military activities, mountains, nuclear materials, oceans, outer space, ozone layer, pest control, plant protection, rivers, water basins and lakes, wastes, wetlands, the working environment, and more.

  2. 2.

    Other measures of the impact of manufactured chemicals on the ozone layer include: Equivalent Effective Chlorine (EECl), which is an index used to approximately quantify overall changes in reactive halogen trends based on the measured mix of ODSs in the troposphere, and Equivalent Effective Stratospheric Chlorine (EESC), which is an index related to EECl that considers the time lags associated with transporting air from the troposphere to the stratosphere. EESC roughly estimates the effect of ODSs on stratospheric ozone.

  3. 3.

    Another measure of manufactured chemicals’ impact on climate include: radiative forcing, which is broadly defined as the difference between the incoming radiation energy and the outgoing radiation. If more energy is incoming than outgoing, it tends to warm the climate (and is a planetary energy imbalance). In addition, Global Temperature Potential (GTP) has been defined as the ratio between the global mean surface temperature change at a given future time horizon (TH) following an emission of a GHG relative to the CO2 reference gas.

  4. 4.

    The exception to lower toxicity is for pest control and sterilization where chemicals are intended to kill living organisms. ODS methyl bromide, which is being phased out except in quarantine and pre-shipment pest control use, is classified as a “biocide” because it kills all life forms in all life stages. The toxic chemicals that replace methyl bromide are not biocides, but they can be equally or more toxic to human populations and can bioaccumulate and persist in the environment.

  5. 5.

  6. 6.

    The 1987 Montreal Protocol entered into force on 1 January 1989, when the criteria were satisfied of at least 11 instruments of Protocol ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession; representing at least two-thirds of 1986 consumption of controlled substances that were deposited by States or regional economic integration organizations. Amendments entered into force with simpler formulas, typically requiring 20 instruments of ratification, acceptance, or approval.

  7. 7.

    See: The evolution of the Montreal Protocol in The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer:

  8. 8.

    Prior to becoming the first executive director of the Ozone Secretariat, K. Madhava Sarma, with Monika Gandhi (then Indian Minister of Environment, now Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development), was a mastermind of the agreement by developing countries to finance the agreed on incremental costs of transition and to create the Multilateral Fund rather than using the World Bank or other entrenched finance institutions, where environmental investment was a secondary priority. Sarma served through the turbulent Meetings of the Parties in Copenhagen, Vienna, Montreal, and Beijing – including three replenishments of the MLF. He streamlined the management of the institutions of the Protocol, the reporting requirements, and other administrative obligations so that Parties could devote their full attention to resolving challenging political issues. He had the rare ability to recruit and motivate an office of ambitious professional staff and to judiciously hire consultants to craft solutions to problems that could be promptly decided by Parties. With Duncan Brack and others, Sarma crafted the Handbook of the Montreal Protocol that covers every aspect of routine, emergency, and strengthening operations. With Dr. Andersen (author of this paper) and Kristen N. Taddonio (co-author of another paper in this Journal), Sarma co-authored two detailed books on the history and technology cooperation of the Montreal Protocol (Andersen and Sarma 2002, and Andersen et al. 2007).

  9. 9.

    The second executive director of the Ozone Secretariat, Marco Gonzalez, has been actively involved in stratospheric issues since the early 1990s when, as a member of the Costa Rica National Congress, he spearheaded the legislative ratification of the Ozone Treaties. He chaired the steering committee of the Fourth and Eighth Meeting of the Parties and served as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the MLF. Marco is the penultimate networker and is able to keep in touch with hundreds of government and non-governmental stakeholders. He identified and resolved misunderstandings and conflicts before they got out of hand and he smoothed feathers when consensus required compromise of core beliefs and political positions. In 2006 and 2007, Marco was part of the “dream team” of ambitious scientists, NGOs, and policy makers that were first to appreciate that the Montreal Protocol had done more to protect climate than the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) and Kyoto Protocol and that it could multiply and magnify that climate success with an acceleration of the HCFC phase-out and with an Amendment to phase-down HFCs.

  10. 10.

    Tina Birmpili’s background is as Greek minister of environment, ambassador at large to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and assignments with the Athens Development Agency, the Open University of Greece, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in different capacities, and counselor on substantive issues related to environment and sustainable development. With this background, she will bring a new flavor to efforts to complete the ODS phase-out and take on the HFC phase-out.

  11. 11.

    For the first assessment (1989), the Economic Assessment Panel (EAP) and Technology Assessment Panel (TAP) were separate, but with Stephen O. Andersen Co-Chairing both panels for continuity. After the first assessment, the EAP and TAP were merged to become the TEAP with the economics work organized in an “Economic Options Committee” of the TEAP.

  12. 12.

    Article 2, §6. “Any Party not operating under Article 5, that has facilities for the production of controlled substances under construction, or contracted for, prior to 16 September 1987, and provided for in national legislation prior to 1 January 1987, may add the production from such facilities to its 1986 production of such substances for the purposes of determining its calculated level of production for 1986, provided that such facilities are completed by 31 December 1990 and that such production does not raise that Party’s annual calculated level of consumption of the controlled substances above 0.5 kg per capita.”

  13. 13.

    The Montreal Protocol divides parties into two categories. An “Article 5 party” is a developing country whose level of consumption of the main CFCs was less than 0.3 kg CFC per capita per year and other countries later classified under Article 5 by decision of the Parties. “Non-Article 5 parties” are developing countries with CFC consumption >0.3 kg/capita/year and developed countries. Currently, 147 countries are categorized as Article 5 parties and 50 as non-Article 5. The list of A5 parties is found at:, and the list of non-A5 parties is found at:

  14. 14.

    Article 2, §5: “Any Party whose calculated level of production in 1986 of the controlled substances in Group I of Annex A was less than 25 kilotonnes may, for the purposes of industrial rationalization, transfer to or receive from any other Party, production in excess of the limits set out in paragraphs 1, 3 and 4, provided that the total combined calculated levels of production of the Parties concerned does not exceed the production limits set out in this Article. Any transfer of such production shall be notified to the secretariat, no later than the time of the transfer.”

  15. 15.

    Any survey of stratospheric ozone science skeptics should begin with a search of publications and presentations of Sally Baliunas, Greg Easterbrook, Patrick J. Michaels, Dixie Lee Ray, Paul Craig Roberts, and S. Fred Singer.

  16. 16.

    There have actually very few qualified scientists in key corporate positions. Scholars may wish to study the contributions and interventions of Dr. Nick Campbell (ICI then Klea then Arkema), Dr. Raymond McCarthy (DuPont), Dr. Mack McFarland (DuPont), and Pauline M. Midgley (ICI).

  17. 17.

    From 1972 to 1986, CMA sponsored projects totaling about US $18 million, often to supplement or augment research by government organizations that could not respond as quickly. See CMA 1986.

  18. 18.

    Scholars will want to interview Dr. Nick Campbell for details.

  19. 19.

    For elaboration, see S. M. Carvalho “Technology Assessment for the Montreal Protocol”; S. Rand and L. Singh, “Importance of the TEAP in Technology Cooperation”; L. Kuijpers, H. Tope, J. Banks, W. Brunner, and A. Woodcock, “Scientific Objectivity, Industrial Integrity and the TEAP Process”; and R. Van Slooten, “TEAP Terms of Reference” in Le Prestre, Reid, and Morehouse (eds.) (1998).

  20. 20.

    Of all TEAP, TOC, and Working Group members, roughly 47 % are from industry, 23 % from government (of government members, approximately 40 % are associated with environment ministries), 9 % from universities, and 21 % from technical institutes, research organizations, and non-governmental organizations, and hospitals. The 1989 Assessment explicitly excluded participation of experts from companies producing CFCs.

  21. 21.

    Quoted in Canan and Reichman (2002), p. 85.

  22. 22.

    Victor Buxton (Environment Canada) organized and Stephen O. Andersen (then at US EPA) co-chaired the original Technology Assessment Panel (TAP). Andersen also co-chaired the Economic Options Panel (EOP), which was merged with the TAP after the first assessment to become the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP).

  23. 23.

    The exceptions were Gary Taylor (consultant), co-chair of the Halons TOC, and Lambert Kuijpers (Phillips Refrigeration and later consultant), co-chair of the RTOC.

  24. 24.

    Omar El Arini was previously as science officer in the US Embassy in Cairo who was part of the team that developed representative A5 ODS phaseout cost estimates to inform the Parties for the 1990 Amendment and Adjustments. His PhD in archaeology tested the atmospheric integrity of crypts and tombs by the absence of CFCs that have no natural sources and can be accurately measured in parts per million or better.

  25. 25.

    Raymond McCarthy said in part: “Fluorocarbons are intentionally or accidentally vented to the atmosphere worldwide at a rate approaching one billion pounds per year. These compounds may be either accumulating in the atmosphere or returning to the surface, land, or sea, in pure form or as decomposition products. Under any of these alternatives, it is prudent that we investigate any effects which the compounds may produce on plants or animals now or in the future.” As a result of the concern, a fluorocarbon technical panel was created that financed about US$25 million worth of research between 1973 and 1990, including research by some of the scientists who were most influential in building the case for phasing out ODSs (e.g., James G. Anderson, Paul J. Crutzen, Paul J.B. Fraser, Joseph Farman, Charles Kolb, Michael J. Kurylo, Gerald Megie, R. George Prinn, A.R. Ravishankara, and Christos S. Zerefos)

  26. 26.

    Stephen O. Andersen was one of many authors of the SST assessment of the impacts on northern latitude grain production.

  27. 27.



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The author is grateful to Marco Gonzalez, Nancy Sherman, Scott Stone, and Durwood Zaelke for their contributions to his paper.

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Correspondence to Stephen O. Andersen.


Appendix A

Evolution of atmospheric science guiding precautionary policy

  • In 1970, Dr. James E. Lovelock detected CFC-11 in the atmosphere using the electron capture detector for gas chromatography that he invented. Preliminary results were published in 1971.

  • In 1971, Dr. Harold Johnston showed that the nitrogen oxides produced in the high-temperature exhaust of the proposed fleet of supersonic transports (SSTs) could contribute significantly to ozone loss by releasing nitrogen oxides (N2O) directly into the stratospheric ozone layer (Johnston 1971).22

  • In 1972, Dr. Paul Crutzen elaborated on the nitrogen oxide ozone depletion theory and explained the process by which ozone is destroyed in the stratosphere. He presented estimates of the ozone reduction that could result from the operation of supersonic aircraft (Crutzen 1972). The same year, Drs. Richard Stolarski and Ralph Cicerone studied the ozone-depleting effects of chlorine from rockets.

  • In 1972, Dr. Raymond McCarthy (DuPont Freon Products Laboratory) hosted a meeting of CFC manufacturers to explore his concerns regarding the rapid market growth of CFCs and their unknown atmospheric fate.Footnote 25

  • In 1973, Dr. James Lovelock et al. reported global surface observations of CFCs “wherever and whenever they were sought” (Lovelock et al. 1973)

  • In 1974, Drs. Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland discovered the potent stratospheric ozone-depleting effects of CFCs and called for a ban of cosmetic and convenience CFC aerosol products (Molina and Rowland 1974)

  • In 1975, Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan discovered the potent greenhouse effect of CFC-11 and CFC-12. Also in 1975, assessments were published estimating the impacts of emissions from supersonic transport (SST) on ozone and climate (US DOT 1975; NAS 1975).Footnote 26

  • In 1984, Dr. Shigeru Chubachi published the first report of Antarctic ozone depletion but failed to appreciate the importance of the finding (Chubachi 1984).

  • In 1985, Drs. Joseph Farman, Brian G. Gardiner, and Jonathan Shanklin of the British Antarctic Survey confirmed “massive recurring ozone depletion in the southern hemisphere”; Dr. Sherwood Rowland coined the phrase “Antarctic Ozone Hole.”

  • In 1987, Dr. Susan Solomon led the National Ozone Expedition to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, where the team gathered the evidence that ultimately confirmed that stratospheric ozone depletion is caused by manufactured CFCs and other ODSs. The signature “smoking gun” graphic by Dr. James G. Anderson clearly demonstrated the correlation between increasing chlorine monoxide (CLO) and decreasing ozone.

  • In 1988, Dr. Mack McFarland presented evidence from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Report of the International Ozone Trends Panel to the DuPont Executive Committee that persuaded them to publically endorse the science linking CFCs and ozone depletion, to voluntarily and unilaterally commit to a total phaseout, and to call for a CFC and halon phaseout. Other fluorocarbon producers soon followed DuPont’s lead. In 1988, emissions of ODSs peaked.

  • In 1989, Dr. Mostafa Tolba organized the first Scientific, Environmental Effects, Technology and Economics Assessments free from political review, censorship, and editing by policy makers.

  • In 1995, Drs. Paul Crutzen, Mario Molina, and Sherwood Rowland were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

  • In 1997, the equivalent effective stratospheric chlorine (ESC) peaked in midlatitudes.23

  • In 2005, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Montreal Protocol Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) integrated the concerns of stratospheric ozone and climate protection in the Special Report on Safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate System (Metz et al. 2005).

  • In 2006, K. Madhava Sarma and Dr. Stephen O. Andersen published an action plan to strengthen the Montreal Protocol and helped to organize the Stockholm Group to take that action.

  • In 2007, Dr. Guus Velders and a “Dream Team” of coauthors24 quantified the benefits of phasing out ozone-depleting greenhouse gases and, in 2009, estimated very high growth in future emissions of HFC as substitutes for ODSs.

  • In 2009, Dr. Molina et al. identified the opportunity to use the existing institution of Montreal Protocol to control production and consumption of HFCs.

  • In 2012, Dr. Velders et al. published the integrated ozone and climate science and estimated the climate forcing of HFCs used as ODS.

  • In 2014, Dr. Velders et al. published the scientific basis for action to collect and destroy CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs contained in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment and thermal insulating foam.

Appendix B

A short list of corporate leadership in the Montreal Protocol

  • In 1975, S.C. Johnson, Sherwin-Williams, Bristol Meyers, and Mennen replaced CFC-12 with hydrocarbons in cosmetic and convenience aerosol products and aggressively advertized the environmental benefits.

  • In 1986, Asahi Glass announced HCFC-225 solvent (ozone depletion potential—ODP = 0.02; AR5 GWP100-yr = ∼50) to replace CFC-113 solvent (ODP = 0.1; AR5 GWP100-yr = 4470).

  • In 1987, a “Tiger Team” of global chemical experts from fluorocarbon companies and academia identified a list of chemical alternatives to CFCs with dramatically lower ODPs and GWPs and prices only 3 to 5 times higher than CFCs.

  • In 1988, AT&T and their supplier Petroferm announced a semi-aqueous solvent made from oranges that cleans electronics as well as CFC-113; a partnership of industry and NGOs organized by EPA and the Foodservice and Packaging Institute (FPI) announced agreement to phase out CFCs in polystyrene foam food packaging within a year and to share the replacement technology worldwide; Nortel and Seiko Epson announced corporate goals to completely phaseout CFC-113 on accelerated schedules; and DuPont and Pennwalt announced the scientific evidence linking CFCs and ozone depletion.

  • In 1989, the Mobile Air Conditioning Society, automakers, and US Environmental Protection Agency designed and commercialized public domain CFC recycling equipment that, within 1 year, cut life cycle refrigerant emissions from vehicle AC in half, while creating jobs and profits in recycling equipment manufacture and automotive service.

  • In 1990, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) donated patented aqueous cleaning technology to the public domain.

  • In 1991, the Industry Cooperative for Ozone Layer Protection (ICOLP) donated no-clean soldering technology and Nortel donated no-clean flux process control to the public domain; Coca-Cola halted purchase of CFC-12 refrigerated equipment; General Dynamics halted CFC solvent use in aircraft manufacture and Lufthansa halted use of most ODS solvents in aircraft maintenance; Seiko Epson halted use of CFC solvents in manufacture of precision instruments; and no-clean soldering is implemented in Brazil and Mexico with the help of ICOLP companies—ahead of implementation in developed countries.

  • In 1992, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officially endorsed an accelerated ODS phaseout and urged global technology cooperation to find and implement alternatives for national security weapons systems.

  • In 1994, production of halon for fire protection was halted after the fire protection community urged the Montreal Protocol to accelerate the phaseout; Minebea Thailand phased out ODS solvents and donated the replacement technology to public domain; the US Air Force halted the purchase of newly produced halon and prohibited the purchase of commercial vehicles and equipment requiring CFCs; and automakers in developed countries completed the phaseout of CFCs in vehicle air conditioning.

  • In 2011, Daikin announced free access for the Parties originally qualifying under Article 5 to its “Basic Patent Indispensable for the Manufacture and Sale of Air Conditioners Using R-32 (HFC-32) Single Component Refrigerant” and created a partnership with the Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Industry, the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and Panasonic, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD). The partnership agreed to introduce high-efficiency HFC-32 room A/Cs to the Indonesian market. Within weeks of that announcement, Fujitsu General, Hitachi, and Toshiba joined the partnership and developed a strategy to continue its expansion.

  • In 2012, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) was launched and has since grown ten-fold, with currently 82 Partners, including 36 State and regional economic integration organization (REIO) Partners, 9 industry NGOs (INGOs), and 35 environmental NGOs (ENGOs).Footnote 27

  • In 2012, the Consumer Goods Forum, a global network of over 650 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders from over 70 countries pledged to begin phasing-out HFCs in new equipment beginning in 2015 (CGF 2012).

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Andersen, S.O. Lessons from the stratospheric ozone layer protection for climate. J Environ Stud Sci 5, 143–162 (2015).

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  • Montreal Protocol
  • Stratospheric ozone
  • Climate
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  • Welcome technology and celebrate success