Chapter 20: The Montreal Protocol and OzonAction networks
In the early 1970s, two chemists published what is now considered to be a landmark paper, proposing that emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from anthropogenic uses could be responsible for causing stratospheric ozone depletion (Molina and Rowland 1974). CFCs and other ozone depleting substances (ODS) were widely used in a range of applications including refrigeration and air-conditioning, aerosol propellants, insulation foams, solvents and fumigation. The concern was that a depleted ozone layer would allow higher levels of ultraviolet radiation (particularly UV-B) to reach the earth’s surface, which was expected to result in damage to human health (particularly skin cancer, eye cataracts and suppressed immune systems), livestock and ecosystems as well as certain materials. A decade later, in which time additional research had supported the original findings, the British Antarctic Survey made a rather shocking discovery that ozone levels above their Antarctic monitoring stations were significantly reduced (Farman et al. 1985). Shortly afterwards these findings were supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite data. Hence the situation was now well established and underscored by the powerful imagery derived from the satellite data of the so-called ‘ozone hole’. The international community was ready to take action. The first real discussions at the international level began in 1981, ahead of this positive scientific proof that man-made ODS were damaging the ozone layer, when the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council requested UNEP to establish a working group to start working on a ‘Global Framework Convention’ for the protection of the ozone layer. By 1984 a draft text of the convention emerged, but without any obligations to control ODS. Later that year, UNEP was requested to convene another meeting to complete the convention and start working on a potential draft protocol with control measures for CFCs.
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