The Montreal protocol of 1987 which halted Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) emissions, allowed humans to limit the earth’s heating to 1.5°C as also set out at that time by the Paris Agreement. They found that CFC damage ozone at an alarming rate and took that decision.
If CFC were not banned at that time then the earth is probably going through 3.5°C of warming for now, which is now 1.1°C to 1.2°C currently.
The global CFC ban was proposed by UK, US, and New Zealand teams as they studied the 3% rise in CFC usage at that time. Without this decision, Earth and its flora might be exposed to the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says, “perhaps this is the single most successful international agreement that was made”. But the damage that ozone causes during the early use of Chlorofluorocarbons led to the release of extra heating carbon dioxide whose major part is still locked in the earth’s vegetation.
Dr Paul Young, of the Lancaster Environment Centre says, “The past experiments exposed plants with excessive UV radiations. Thus they are not absorbing CO2 as much as they can”.
Scientists estimated that if CFC were not banned then there would be 580 billion tonnes of carbon stored in forests, vegetation, and soil by 2100 years. There will be extra 165-215 parts per million (which is almost 50 percent) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As per scientists, everyone’s actions to halt the greenhouse gases were much challenging at that time.
Dr. Young told BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science program that “The science was looked upon and acted upon at that time, we have not seen that to the same degree with climate change.”
For now, CO2 levels are still at the highest levels even without using CFC. Research published in Nature also showed that by 2100 there will be 60% less ozone above the tropics. The situation may have become worse than the Antarctic Ozone hole in the 1980s due to CFC usage.
The 1987 Decision can act as an eye-opener for global leaders as everyone can imagine their current situation if Chlorofluorocarbons were not banned. This showed that there is a requirement for a large number of collective efforts to save the earth.
As Dr. Young also said that it’s nice to have something positive to hold on to and to see that the world can come together.