The Montreal Protocol: protecting the ozone layer and tackling climate change

The Montreal Protocol has succeeded in halting the damage to the ozone layer, and is helping the world take a major step forward in the battle against climate change.

In Canada and around the world, the Montreal Protocol regulates the production and consumption of almost 100 substances that deplete the ozone layer, the Earth’s atmospheric shield that prevents UV radiation from harming humans and other forms of life.

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In 1987 the Montreal Protocol brought the world together to reduce and eliminate the use of chemicals like Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), causing the Ozone layer to get thinner.

197 countries committed to taking action.

Result: the ozone layer is slowly recovering.

Scientists estimate that it will be repaired by the middle of the century.

The Montreal Protocol: a successful global action on climate change.

32 years and healing

September 16, 2019, marked the 32nd anniversary of one of the most successful, global environmental agreements of all time. Back in 1987, nations gathered in Montreal, Quebec, to sign this historic pact to confront depletion of the atmosphere’s ozone layer, a problem that threatened the environment and human health around the planet.

In the years ahead, all 197 countries ratified the Montreal Protocol, agreeing to work together to fix the hole in the Earth’s ozone. In the decades that followed the Montreal Protocol has helped prevent millions of cases of skin cancer and eye cataracts and helped to phase out of 99% of the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Each year on September 16, designated by the UN as World Ozone Day, we recognize those continuing efforts to repair the ozone layer in order to protect the health of all nations and our shared environment.

The Montreal Protocol contributes to climate action

Did you know some ODS are also powerful greenhouse gases?  By 2010, the Montreal Protocol had already prevented the equivalent of over 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions around the world, about the same amount Canada would produce in 175 years! 

Today, the Montreal Protocol is helping to phase down climate warming hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) chemicals that were introduced as ozone-friendly replacements.  On January 1, 2019, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which mandates a global phase-down of HFCs, came into force and will become more stringent in the years ahead. Updated Canadian HFCs regulations are helping to make common products such as new refrigerators, air-conditioners and foam products are more climate-friendly.

Through the reduction of hydrofluorocarbons under the Montreal Protocol, the earth can avoid an increase of up to half a degree Celsius in global temperature by the end of the century. Canada continues to work with all countries to implement the Kigali Amendment. Canada has also committed to providing increased financial support to the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund to help developing countries implement a phase down of HFCs.

Watch the video on how the Kigali Amendment reduces climate change.

Continuing the healing

Continued efforts are needed to ensure the complete healing of the ozone layer and further reductions of HFC emissions. Canada continues to lead international efforts through its atmospheric monitoring programs, policy development, and collaboration with other countries. 

As part of Canada’s contributions to global observation networks, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) operates the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre (WOUDC), and one of the world standards for stratospheric ozone measurements. ECCC scientists also work with other researchers and organizations. For example, they are working with the Canadian Space Agency to monitor concentrations of ozone depleting chemicals from space through the Canadian satellite mission SCISAT - Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE). This data is used to evaluate Canadian models that contribute to the projections of ozone recovery in the stratosphere.

Unfortunately, recent atmosphere monitoring has detected an increase in certain ozone depleting chemicals over eastern Asia, possibly resulting from illegal manufacturing. ECCC is working with other countries and the United Nations Environment Program on global solutions to address this problem.

Do your part in healing the ozone

We can individually take part in healing the ozone layer and reducing emissions of climate-warming HFCs by:

  • disposing of refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners in a responsible manner and in accordance with local requirements – many communities offer free services to ensure chemicals from old appliances are recovered and properly disposed to prevent their chemicals from leaking into the atmosphere. 
  • checking car and home air conditioners for leaks – leaky units should be repaired before being refilled
  • keeping rooms cool at night with ventilation, without air conditioning if possible – remember that a higher setting on your thermostat also saves energy
  • switching car air conditioners on after driving a few minutes with the windows open
  • parking cars in the shade when possible to reduce air conditioner use

Find out more

World Ozone Day 2019 – 32 Years and Healing

About the Montreal Protocol

Learn about hydroflurocarbons

SCISAT and the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment

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