When we saved the ozone layer, we saved ourselves from even worse climate change

One of the nice environmental success tales of the final century was the 1987 Montreal Protocol. And in response to new analysis from Australia, we now comprehend it not solely saved the ozone layer, but it surely additionally saved us from vital local weather change.

“Without [the Montreal Protocol], we would have had at least a quarter more global warming than we have today,” local weather change researcher Matthew England, informed Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald. 

What the Montreal Protocol achieved 

The Montreal Protocol was the primary treaty in United Nations’ historical past to attain common ratification, and lots of take into account it to be probably the most profitable world environmental motion thus far. 

“Without the Montreal Protocol, we would have reached 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels already, and we would have no chance of meeting the Paris Agreement,” stated England. 

Canadian Montreal Protocol Signing Delegation in September 16, 1987. (CMOS Archive)

Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, are man-made chemical substances that have been extensively utilized in refrigeration and air conditioners earlier than they have been banned by the protocol. They’re additionally potent greenhouse gases, 1000’s of instances extra highly effective than carbon dioxide, and might stay within the environment for as much as 100 years. 

The protocol’s ban on CFCs was in response to analysis exhibiting that they have been destroying the ozone within the higher environment. That ozone filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation from the solar. 

Thinning of the ozone layer and the ozone “holes” that appeared over polar areas threatened organisms on Earth. 

The treaty was an awesome success — CFC ranges have been dropping because the ban got here into impact, and the ozone layer has been slowly therapeutic. 

Secondary advantages from the Protocol

The new examine checked out different advantages of the treaty by modelling what would have occurred to Earth’s local weather if the Montreal Protocol had by no means banned CFCs, and their manufacturing, use and launch had continued.

Climate change is having a profound impact in Greenland, the place during the last a number of many years, summers have turn out to be longer and the speed that glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet are melting has accelerated. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Researchers used a local weather mannequin to simulate local weather circumstances had CFCs not been banned, however as an alternative skilled the type of progress in use that may have been affordable contemplating the worldwide progress in air-con and refrigeration. 

The fashions discovered that by mid-century, Earth can be on common no less than one diploma hotter than it could have been with out the settlement, below a conservative CFC progress trajectory of three per cent per 12 months. 

The situation additionally confirmed that with out the ban on CFCs, the Arctic area of Canada can be already no less than one diploma hotter and experiencing 25 per cent extra sea ice soften than what we’re seeing at present. Ice loss from Greenland would have been considerably extra speedy as nicely, stated England, which might have contributed to sea stage rise.

“You can just imagine turning up the volume of climate change to about 25 to 100 per cent of the scale of what we’re seeing now,” he stated.

‘We want the Paris Agreement to be our Montreal Protocol’ 

England stated it is a “feel good story” and hopes the Paris Agreement will comply with within the footsteps of the Montreal Protocol. However, he admits that the challenges are a lot better this time. 

The industries that trusted CFCs had a comparatively straightforward time discovering alternative chemical substances with out the detrimental results on the ozone layer. Getting the world to cease utilizing fossil fuels is a far larger problem.

But England isn’t giving up hope. 

Aerial view of the Quilapilum photovoltaic plant in Colina, about 40 km north of Santiago, Chile on August 20, 2019. (MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP through Getty Images)

“All the technologies that we need to solve this problem have actually been around in their infancy for at least 30 or 40 years,”  he stated. Solar energy has been round because the 1970s, however he suggests expertise advances made during the last 4 many years have been slower than they may have been. 

“What’s missing is the incentive to push forward the development of renewable energy,” stated England.

“We have this great example of the Montreal Protocol that solved this problem. We can do the same thing again. We need the Paris Agreement to be our Montreal Protocol for carbon dioxide emissions.” 

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