Protecting the Environment

DuPont News, October 10, 2012

 

Linda Fisher
Linda Fisher

In a recently published article, DuPont Safety, Health & Environment Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Linda Fisher discussed the contributions and future role of the Montreal Protocol. The following is the text of that article:

DuPont shares the widely held view that the Montreal Protocol is the most successful multilateral environmental agreement in history. In the 25 years since it was signed, the Protocol has made incredible progress toward protecting the ozone layer. Because the relevant compounds tend to have high global warming potential, it also has provided climate protection benefits -- in fact, more than five times as much as that provided by the Kyoto Protocol. We are proud of the role DuPont has played in supporting the agreement since 1986.

Three key elements contributed to the Protocol’s success.

  • It aligned the goals of governments, industry and environmental organizations, grounded in sound science. This facilitated the development and evolution of a regulatory structure that spurred innovation.
     
  • It combined flexibility with regulatory certainty, enabling governments to adapt the program to their own circumstances. Also, by recognizing Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as interim solutions, it allowed more rapid progress than if only non-ozone depleting solutions were allowed. In addition, it provided confidence in the market for environmentally superior products, which enabled rapid progress in technology development and ultimately, in ozone layer protection.
     
  • It made special provisions for developing countries, including the Multilateral Fund, and an allowance for later implementation of schedules to reduce the use of ozone depleting substances.
     

The Protocol stimulated innovation on many fronts. In some applications, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were replaced by entirely new technologies. For example, the electronics industry identified processes that did away with the need for cleaning solvents. Overall, about 80% of CFC use was eliminated through the use of non-fluorochemical technologies. For the remaining 20%, DuPont and others rapidly developed and commercialized HCFC and HFC alternatives, while equipment manufacturers adapted their products to use these alternatives.

The Montreal Protocol continues to encourage technological innovation toward ever more environmentally superior alternatives to meet societal needs such as refrigeration, air conditioning and thermal insulation. Extending its model could continue to drive the availability of safe, cost-effective, energy-efficient solutions with lower impact on the global climate in the decades ahead.

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