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Saving the Earth's Ozone Layer Went Even Better Than Expected

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Jimmy Richmond
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In 1989, amidst mounting scientific evidence, dozens of nations joined forces to sign a treaty aimed at halting the expansion of a massive hole in Earth’s ozone layer.

Nearly thirty years later, the Montreal Protocol has done just that.

That’s the surprising conclusion of a study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, which takes a fresh look at the consequences of the nearly 30-year-old treaty that phased out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and later, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), after scientists determined that these compounds were destroying ozone in Earth’s stratosphere.

Since CFCs and HCFCs are also potent greenhouse gases, phasing them out has had a major impact on US climate pollution: Between 2008 and 2014, the Montreal Protocol led to greenhouse gas reductions with roughly half the benefit of all other climate regulations enacted by the EPA.

“This is something that’s been talked about for a while, this dual benefit of the Montreal Protocol limiting damage to the ozone layer, also curtailing climate change,” Rachel Cleetus, climate policy manager and lead economist with the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned scientists, told Gizmodo.

“It’s because all these ozone depleting substances are also very potent global warming gases.”

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Jimmy Richmond
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