How the world has prevented the most severe warming of this century
But the merits of the agreement, which was later approved by each country, are much broader than its impact on the ozone hole. Many of the chemicals are also powerful greenhouse gases. So as a major side benefit, their decline over the past three decades has already eased warming and could be declining at any time. 1 ˚C worldwide average temperature by 2050.
Now, a new study in Nature emphasizes another important, if unintentional, bonus: reducing the sin emitted by ultraviolet radiation from the sun in plants, inhibiting photosynthesis and slowing growth. The Montreal Protocol avoids “a catastrophic collapse of forests and fields” that could add hundreds of billions of tons of carbon to the atmosphere, said Anna Harper, a senior lecturer in climate science at the University of Exeter and a coauthor on paper, said in an email.
The Nature paper, published Aug. 18, found that if the production of ozone-depleting substances continued to detect 3% per year, more UV radiation could prevent the growth of trees, grass, ferns, flowers, and crops around the world.
The world’s plants absorb less carbon dioxide, releasing up to 645 billion tons of carbon from the earth into the atmosphere this century. That could push global warming to 1 ˚C higher over the same period. It also has detrimental effects on agricultural yields and food supplies around the world.
The effect of rising levels of CFCs in plants, including the direct effect of atmospheric warming, could push temperatures 2.5 ˚C higher in the century, the researchers found. That all comes over severe warming by estimates at 2100.
“While it was originally intended as an ozone protection agreement, the Montreal Protocol is a very successful climate agreement,” said Paul Young, a climate scientist at Lancaster University and other authors of the paper.
All of which begs the question: Why can’t the world create an equally aggressive and effective international agreement that is clearly designed to address climate change? At least some scholars think it is important but most ignore the teachings on the success of the Montreal Protocol, which has become new in relation to accelerating global warming and the arrival of the next climate conference. at the UN.
A fresh look
At this point, the planet will continue to warm for the next several decades whatever, as tell the UN climate report warned last week. But how much worse it has done will depend heavily on how aggressively the world will cut climate pollution in the coming decades.
Today, countries have failed, both under the Kyoto Treaty and the climate-friendly, to come together in an agreement with sufficiently ambitious and binding commitments to eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions. The countries will meet at the next UN conference in Glasgow in early November, with the clear aim of raising the targets under the Paris agreement.
A common view is that relevance is limited. CFCs are a much simpler problem to solve because they are created in one sector – mostly by a few parent companies like DuPont – and are used in a limited set of applications.
On the other hand, almost every component in every sector in every country is pumping out greenhouse gases. Fossil fuels are the energy source that will drive the global economy, and most of our engines and physical infrastructure are designed around them.
But Edward Parson, a professor of environmental law at the University of California, Los Angeles, says it’s time to look at the lessons from the Montreal Protocol.
Because as the dangers of climate change become more apparent and dire, more and more countries are pushing for stricter rules, and companies are getting closer to the stage set by the likes of DuPont: disputing scientific findings to refuse to accept that the new rules are inevitable, so they better know how to operate and earn under them.
That is, we have reached a point where more likely rules can be made, so it is important to use the opportunity to make effective ones.
Strict rules, always enforced
Parson is the author of Ozone Layer Protection: Science and Strategy, an in-depth history of the Montreal Protocol published in 2003. He stressed that the cessation of ozone-depleting compounds is a much more complex problem than has always been appreciated, given that much of the economy as a whole the world depends on them in some way.
He added that one of the most ongoing disagreements about the deal is the idea that the industry has already produced commercially comparable alternative products and is therefore more willing to join the deal in the end.
In contrast, the development of alternatives occurred after regulations were enacted. The pace of change continues as the rules are tightened, and industry, experts, and technical bodies are deciphering how much progress and how fast. That provides even more alternatives to “a recurring positive feedback,” Parson said.
To be sure, the prospect of profiting new markets has also helped.
“DuPoint’s decision to support a CFC ban was based on a belief that it could gain significant competition by selling new chemical substitutes because of its proven research and development capabilities. progress to develop chemicals, the (limited) progress already being made in developing substitutes and the potential for higher revenue from selling new specialist chemicals, ”a pair of researchers at MIT wrote in an analysis in the late 1990s.
It suggests to everyone that the world should not wait for innovations that will become cheaper and easier to address climate change. Countries need to enforce rules that increase emissions, forcing industries to figure out cleaner ways to generate energy, grow food, produce products, and move goods and services. people all over the world.