A Treaty to Inspire Global Action
On the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, the World Bank and the US EPA come together to celebrate its success and share lessons for future challenges.
It was a day to pause and celebrate an environmental success story. In the 1980s, the thinning ozone layer was one of the biggest environmental challenges facing humanity. Exactly 25 years ago, in a massive show of global cooperation, the world ratified the Montreal Protocol. According to scientists, the ozone layer that protects the earth from the sun’s most harmful ultraviolet rays is on its way to recovery.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, the World Bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, welcomed Administrator Lisa Jackson of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with leaders from business, the non-government sector, science and academia, as well as staff from the US Department of State and the US EPA to the World Bank in Washington D.C.
The Montreal Protocol has overseen the phase-out of 98 percent of ozone-depleting substances worldwide earning the label of the `most successful environmental treaty’. By 2065, it’s estimated that actions to protect and restore the ozone layer will have prevented 6.3 million skin cancer deaths and saved $4.2 trillion in health costs in the US alone. Its global impact is many times greater.
The Protocol is the only global environmental agreement to boast universal ratification. Administrator Jackson said: “the remarkable progress we’ve seen is a direct result of the international partnership that has characterized this treaty. Countries all over the world have responded to the requirements of the Montreal Protocol with seriousness and national purpose.”
Acknowledging the work and dedication of scientists, politicians, civil society members, and development partners, President Kim said: “I am proud to say that we at the World Bank have played an important part in the 25 years of the Montreal Protocol’s success, including by channeling nearly $1 billion to help developing countries eliminate CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances.”
The World Bank has been an Implementing Agency of the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund since 1991 and supports the Global Environment Facility’s ozone work.
Adopting Stronger Controls
One of the hallmarks of the Protocol has been its science-based decision making resulting in adoption of stronger controls and sharper reductions. “Science, and the flexible accommodation of new science,” said Administrator Jackson, “has been at the core of this success.”
Both President Kim and Administrator Jackson acknowledged that the Montreal Protocol has also greatly helped the world in the collective fight against climate change by eliminating ozone-depleting substances that are also potent greenhouse gases. The result has been 8 billion tons of CO2 avoided per year, akin to emissions from approximately 1,900 power plants.
Administrator Jackson said that EPA’s estimates of climate benefits from elimination of ozone-depleting substances to date, “is equal to eliminating the emissions of one of every two American cars.”
It is this link with climate change that makes the Montreal Protocol more relevant than ever. An emerging challenge is to find effective replacements for ozone-depleting substances that do not contribute to warming the planet.
The vital role of business within the Protocol partnership was also stressed. The World Bank hosted a New and Emerging Technologies Fair where over 20 companies representing air conditioning, fire suppression, and food retail sectors displayed latest innovations.
Sustained business leadership into the future will be absolutely crucial in testing and taking to market green, clean alternatives on a massive scale. With the world’s highest growth projections for refrigeration and cooling coming from emerging economies, the special needs of developing countries for safe and affordable alternatives remain high on the agenda.
President Kim challenged developed countries and their private sectors to “forge deeper and stronger partnerships with developing countries to effect the needed market transformation together.”