Climate Action

Statement by Commissioner Hedegaard on 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol

Logo 25 Montreal protocol © Ozone Secretariat UNEP

Sunday 16 September is International Ozone Day and also marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, made the following statement:

"The Montreal Protocol has achieved a lot. The atmospheric concentrations of the man-made chemicals which attack the ozone layer most aggressively are now falling. This is thanks to the phase-out of their production and consumption which is under way. Much remains to be done, but scientific evidence shows the ozone layer should recover fully by the second half of this century provided the Protocol continues to be applied.

The EU has been a leader. We have implemented what has been agreed, and on many occasions we have moved faster in phasing out dangerous substances than the Protocol requires.

Montreal has also done a huge amount to combat climate change. Many ozone-depleting substances are also very powerful greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming, so it is doubly good for the environment that they are being phased out.

However, there is still the challenge of HFC gases, which don't harm the ozone layer but are extremely powerful greenhouse gases. Agreement is needed on a global phase-down of HFCs as soon as possible. The best instrument for this is the Montreal Protocol itself.

I believe the Montreal Protocol holds some important lessons for a new global climate agreement. The Protocol is legally binding, so it has teeth. The EU will be pressing very hard for the new climate treaty to be legally binding as well. Montreal also ensures that any countries which refuse to participate are excluded from sharing in its benefits. This has proven to be an effective approach that the world might also want to consider in the design of the new climate agreement."

Video interview with Commissioner Hedegaard