Saving the Ozone Layer Helped More Than We Thought

It turns out when nations of the world get together to try and save the environment they can be really good at it. The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 to save the ozone layer, and it did. Indeed, a new report says that it not only saved the ozone layer the protocol also cut greenhouse gas emissions. This meant that nations that signed the protocol had a spin-off benefit of reducing their nation’s carbon footprint.

Great things can happen if the politicians of our world work together.

Under the Montreal Protocol—which was enforced by the EPA’s Clean Air Act—the US saw a a near-complete phaseout of CFCs beginning in 1996, and a 95 percent decline in HCFCs since 1998. Pulling data from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s atmospheric monitoring network, Lei Hu from the University of Colorado Boulder and her colleagues demonstrated that from 2008 to 2014, the elimination of these substances had the equivalent climate impact of reducing CO2 emissions by 170 million tons per year. Projecting forward, the researchers found that the continued implementation of the Montreal Protocol and its amendments could shave some 500 million tons of CO2 off our carbon footprint annually by 2025, compared with 2005 emissions levels.

 For context, 500 million tons of CO2 is roughly a quarter of what we need to cut to meet our Paris Climate Agreement target, of reducing emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025. It’s also close to the annual US emissions from the entire agriculture sector.

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