Pay No Attention to That Protocol Behind the Curtain
Twenty-year-old Montreal Protocol has helped combat global warming
It kind of sucks to be the Montreal Protocol. Not only do you lack the name recognition of your compatriot from Kyoto, you also go widely unrecognized for the work you’ve done to fight global warming. The phaseout of chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons under the Montreal treaty — negotiated in 1987 to protect the ozone layer — has dramatically slowed the rate of climate change, as CFCs are also potent greenhouse gases. (Shocking statistic alert: common chemical CFC-12 is 11,000 times as heat-trapping as carbon dioxide. Eleven. Thousand. Times.) Research published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences simulated how the planet would have warmed if not for the humble Montreal Protocol — which contributed to a 60 percent drop in global CFC emissions from 1989 to 1995 — and “clearly shows that things are possible in a global treaty,” says lead author Guus Velders. “We gained about 10 years for climate change.” Excellent! We’ll pencil in “apocalypse” for 2017.