Thursday, March 15, 2007

Protect the ozone layer, and combat global warming at the same time

NY Times has an article about how one change can make a difference both to the ozone layer and global warming.

Push to Fix Ozone Layer and Slow Global Warming

An unusual coalition of industrial and developing countries began pushing Wednesday for stringent limits on the world’s most popular refrigerant for air-conditioners, as evidence mounts that the refrigerant harms the earth’s ozone layer and contributes to global warming.


The article points out that the Montreal agreement has been more effective that the Kyoto Protocol in combating global warming.

A report last week by five American and European scientists found that sharp cutbacks in emissions of ozone-depleting gases since 1987 have been far more effective in combating global warming than the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement that was aimed directly at limiting climate change.

HCFC’s and other ozone-depleting gases are extremely powerful warming gases. Gram for gram, the ones used as refrigerants have thousands of times the global-warming effect of carbon dioxide. The ozone-depleting gases are released in far smaller quantities, though, than carbon dioxide, which is emitted when fossil fuels are burned by vehicle engines, power plants and other users.

The report by the European and American experts, published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the Montreal Protocol had proved to be 5.5 times as effective as the Kyoto accord was intended to be in cutting emissions of global-warming gases. The Montreal agreement has been in force much longer and applies to developing and industrial nations alike, while the Kyoto Protocol has binding limits only for industrial nations.


Imagine how the situation would be if there had been no Montreal Protocol? I am sure that this is going to be used by some as an argument against the Kyote Protocol, but it only works as such, if you are arguing for a stricter protocol.

I am a staunch defender of the Kyoto Protocol, not because I think it's the right solution, but because I believe it was the best solution we could get at the time. Even so, I would hope that this study would lead to a better, more widespread, and more strict agreement between the countries. However, given the political opposition against the existing agreement, I find this highly unlikely to happen any time soon.

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