Why Cutting Carbon Emissions is not Enough

Twenty years ago, governments adopted the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to protect the Earth’s ozone layer from emissions of destructive chemicals. Not only has the protocol proven highly effective, but it has also spared humanity a significant level of climate change, because the gases that it prohibits also contribute to global warming.

Twenty years ago, governments adopted the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to protect the Earth’s ozone layer from emissions of destructive chemicals. Few could have foreseen how far-reaching that decision would prove to be.

The Protocol explicitly aimed at phasing-out substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – found in products such as refrigerators, foams, and hairsprays – in order to repair the thin gassy-shield that filters out the sun’s harmful, ultra-violet rays. By 2010, close to 100 ozone-depleting substances, including CFCs, will have been phased-out globally.

Without the decisions taken 20 years ago, atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances would have increased ten-fold by 2050. This could have led to up to 20 million additional cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataracts, not to speak of damage to human immune systems, wildlife, and agriculture.

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