This is good news, but it's also bizarre.
Most of you will be aware of the 'Montreal Protocol', an ozone restoration treaty regarded as the most successful implementation of international cooperation in modern history. Since 1987, 191 countries have signed up to the protocol, committing to phase out dangerous ozone depleting substances. The result of this accord, according to NASA satellite findings, has been a stalling of the growth of the polar ozone holes.
What you may not be aware of, however, is that these same substances are particularly powerful greenhouse gases - so on top of destroying the ozone layer, they are powerful drivers of climate change.
Now this is where it gets interesting. While the Kyoto Protocol, the proposed international carbon trading solution to climate change, seems to be sputtering and stalling in efforts at tangible progress, the ozone-centric Montreal Protocol has just stepped up to the plate, signing off on new tougher binding targets that dramatically overshadow anything the international carbon market (Kyoto Protocol) have acheived so far, or indeed have promised to achieve, and they've done it primarily in a bid to mitigate global warming:
The 191 Parties to the Montreal Protocol reached a historic agreement late Friday night to strengthen the ozone treaty to address reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 billion tons of CO2 equivalent — five times more than the Kyoto Protocol will do during its initial reduction period from 2008 to 2012.While Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and lead personality in Kyoto Protocol development, has indicated he's already given up on the upcoming 2008-2012 phase of the Kyoto Protocol, looking wistfully at the post 2012 phase instead (even though growing scientific data puts this wishful thinking way too far into the future), this move by Montreal Protocol participants starkly contrasts the ability (or willingness?) of these two groups to create a consensus of thought and action. One must really question the true determination of Kyoto Protocol participants when we have countries under the Kyoto process, including developing nations, saying they won't accept binding targets, the US fighting tooth and nail to stop anyone agreeing on anything, and now we suddenly have a revised international ozone agreement that will reduce greenhouse gases by five times more than would be delivered through the Kyoto protocol -- and without a murmur of dissent.
"Five times Kyoto's initial climate reductions is an extraordinary accomplishment," said Durwood Zaelke, the President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, which coordinated a year-long effort to educate the Parties about the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol. He added that "This historic decision marks the first time that all countries of the world—both developing and developed—have agreed to mandatory climate reductions. This spirit of cooperation is a big boost for the post-2012 climate negotiations." Friday night's decision, reached after seven days of negotiations, also will advance the recovery of the ozone layer by several years.
The decision speeds up by ten years the phase-out of HCFCs, chemicals that destroy the ozone layer and contribute to climate change. As part of the agreement, developed country Parties promised to continue paying into a technology fund to help developing country Parties meet their new phase-out obligations. - Press release, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (PDF)
Of course, the U.S. lack of participation in Kyoto is arguably the biggest cause for its floundering to date, but this contrasts greatly with the U.S. contribution to this new ozone treaty revision:
Success was achieved by an unusual coalition of both developing and developed country Parties working together to strengthen the treaty to realize its full potential to reduce climate emissions. Argentina and Brazil led the developing country Parties, and were strongly supported by lowlying island and coastal countries, including Micronesia, Mauritius, and Mauritania, who were concerned by the threat of rising sea-levels that threaten their very existence.Well done Durwood!
The United States proposed the most aggressive phase-out schedule, supported by the Group of 8 strongest economies in the world, along with Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland. Argentina and Brazil also proposed an aggressive phase-out of HCFCs, and worked effectively to build support from other developed country Parties. - Press release, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (PDF)
And, Yvo, c'mon - you can do better than this. These guys have just proved it.
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