The Montreal Protocol demonstrated that nations can come together to successfully design and implement effective environmental legislation. The general public did not originally accept the idea of a hole in the ozone layer – yet over time, it gradually became viewed as scientific fact, and action was taken. However a segments of the corporate elite are purposely confusing climate science due to the amount of investment in fossil fuels. 

The key issue with the Montreal Protocol is that, unlike greenhouse gases (GHGs), the phasing out of harmful CFC gases did not require enormous investment or infrastructural changes.

CFCs were only used to manufacture aerosol sprays, foams and packing materials, solvents, and refrigerants. Research and patents by major corporations into cheaper and alternative substances were already well under way during the 1980’s.[1]

The limitation of a Montreal Protocol approach to GHGs is that there is no ‘political will’ to do it. Despite their action toward CFC, the Montreal Protocol lacked the political will to approach GHCs. Yet, public awareness of global warming has increased and people are more willing to use renewable sources of energy, eco-friendly products/technology and energy saving approaches. If the majority of interested stakeholders – including engaged citizens, organizations, and relevant NGOs - unified and demanded that corporations and governments commit themselves to the Montreal Protocol in the ICCR and subsequently phase out the production, utilization, consumption and disposal of GHGs, then we could succeed in reversing international trends.

Some corporations, and governments have already taken the lead. In Scandinavian countries there are now symbols such evergreen, falcon, and swans appearing on more packages – a marketing pre-requisite for a certain sector of the market. The markers signify certain standards of recycling, and efficient use of energy and materials by preventing delayed emissions. Following such a consumer atmosphere, it would be a marketing folly for the fossil fuel industries to continue to resist change. Fossil fuels are a finite resource expected to run out within the next fifty years. In fact, they need to diversify if they are going to survive the climate crisis.

“Business people must either dedicate themselves to transforming commerce to a restorative undertaking or march society to the undertaker.”[2] Yet once climate change becomes more noticeable, the scientific argument will be become more dominant within the mainstream consciousness. When this takes place the ICCR will change its limited ideas of emission reductions to a full phasing out of all GHGs substances. Those governments and corporations that adapt to the changing social environment will survive and prosper. Those that remain stuck in the old ways will become redundant.

Therefore what can be said for the future of our civilization if we do not act now?

[1]Richard G. Gann and Paul A. Reneke, Editors. ‘Proceedings of HOTWC-2002 12th Halon Options Technical Working Conference, Albuquerque,’ NM.’NIST Special Publication 984 (April 20 – May 2, 2002).

[2] Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce (New York: Harper Collins, 1993) p2.

Opinions voiced by Global Minds do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Global Journal.