The Mon­treal Pro­to­col at 30— Cel­e­brat­ing Suc­cess

Policy - - In This Issue - Ver­ba­tim / Brian Mul­roney

On Novem­ber 20 in Mon­treal, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Brian Mul­roney and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna opened the 29th Meet­ing of the Par­ties to the Mon­treal Pro­to­col, mark­ing 30 years since the landmark treaty lim­it­ing chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bons was signed. The leader voted Green­est Prime Min­is­ter in Cana­dian His­tory by en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists in 2006 pro­vided both his­tor­i­cal and cur­rent con­text for the deal widely lauded as the model for mul­ti­lat­eral col­lab­o­ra­tion.

When I was very young, we went to the foot of Cham­plain Street, and swam in Baie Comeau, for which my home­town was named.

To­day, there is a park where we used to swim. The waste from the pa­per mill cre­ated land­fill, where once there were pris­tine waters. No one swims in the bay any­more.

And that’s where my aware­ness of the en­vi­ron­ment, and the harm done to it, be­gan. In Baie Comeau, I once said: “My fa­ther dreamed of a bet­ter life for his fam­ily. I dream of a bet­ter life for my coun­try.” Part of that dream was about leav­ing a more pros­per­ous and united coun­try to our chil­dren, but a large part of it was also about leav­ing Canada en­vi­ron­men­tally whole.

So, I’m hon­oured and de­lighted to join you for this celebration on the 30th an­niver­sary of the landmark Mon­treal Pro­to­col on Ozone De­ple­tion, the only univer­sal UN agree­ment, rat­i­fied by 196 coun­tries and the EU—more Par­ties than any other in­ter­na­tional agree­ment in his­tory.

The Mon­treal Pro­to­col was the re­sult of pri­or­i­tized and proac­tive lead­er­ship by Canada, the United States, some Nordic Coun­tries and UN lead­er­ship of both the de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing world.

From the per­spec­tive of our gov­ern­ment, the en­vi­ron­ment was a pri­or­ity from the day we took of­fice. We knew we had to lead by ex­am­ple at home and en­gage the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues that knew no bor­ders.

At home, we es­tab­lished eight new na­tional parks, in­clud­ing South Moresby in Bri­tish Columbia, and our Green Plan put Canada on a path to create five more by 1996 and an­other 13 by 2000. Mostafa Tolba, when he was head of the UN En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gram, called Canada’s Green Plan “a model for the world.”

We be­gan the long over­due cleanup of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and Fraser rivers, and we launched the Arc­tic strat­egy to pro­tect our largest and most im­por­tant wilder­ness area—the North.

In Toronto in 1988, Canada hosted the first in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence with politi­cians ac­tively present on cli­mate change. Gro Brundt­land de­liv­ered a pow­er­ful key­note ad­dress, and Canada was the first western coun­try to en­dorse the his­toric rec­om­men­da­tions of the Brundt­land Com­mis­sion, and the first to em­brace the lan­guage of “sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.”

In 1991, we signed the Acid Rain Ac­cord with the United States, an issue we had been work­ing on since tak­ing of­fice in 1984. I want to come back to acid rain as an im­por­tant ex­am­ple of lead­er­ship and en­gage­ment.

At the Rio Earth Sum­mit in 1992, we helped bring the U.S. on board in sup­port of the Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change, and we were the first in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­try to sign the bio­di­ver­sity treaty.

And then there was the Mon­treal Pro­to­col, which a New York Times head­line has called: “A Lit­tle Treaty That Could”. Could it ever, as it turns out.

It has cut the equiv­a­lent of more than 135 bil­lion tonnes of car­bon­diox­ide emis­sions, while avert­ing the col­lapse of the ozone layer and en­abling its com­plete restora­tion by the mid­dle of this cen­tury.

For­mer UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Kofi An­nan has called the Mon­treal Pro­to­col “the most suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional agree­ment to date.” The Econ­o­mist last year called it “the world’s most lauded en­vi­ron­men­tal treaty.” The New York Times re­ported in 2013: “The Mon­treal Pro­to­col is widely seen as the most suc­cess­ful global en­vi­ron­men­tal treaty.”

In The Guardian, Mario Molina, the No­bel co-lau­re­ate in chem­istry for his work on ozone de­ple­tion wrote that: “The Mon­treal Pro­to­col has a claim to be one of the most suc­cess­ful treaties of any kind.”

Pro­fes­sor Molina con­tin­ued: “The same chem­i­cals that at­tacked the ozone layer also warmed the cli­mate. Thus, in phas­ing them out, the Mon­treal Pro­to­col has made a large con­tri­bu­tion to pro­tect­ing the world’s cli­mate.

“The Mon­treal Pro­to­col is, there­fore, a unique planet-sav­ing agree­ment.”

Not only has the Mon­treal Pro­to­col led to the elim­i­na­tion of over 99 per cent of ozone de­plet­ing sub­stances, it has also, as re­ported by the Euro­pean En­vi­ron­ment Agency, “avoided green­house gas emis­sions by an amount 5-6 times larger than the tar­get of the Ky­oto Pro­to­col.”

Quite apart from elim­i­nat­ing ozone de­ple­tion and avoid­ing GHG emis­sions, the Mon­treal Pro­to­col, as our Cana­dian gov­ern­ment notes, “has pre­vented up to two mil­lion cases of skin can­cer and eye cataracts glob­ally.” The UN En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tar­iat fore­casts: “up to 2 mil­lion cases of skin can­cer may be pre­vented each year by 2030.”

That also means un­counted bil­lions of dol­lars of avoided health­care costs around the world.

And the ques­tion is, how did we get to Mon­treal, and how did we get the Pro­to­col? And how, and why, has it been such an un­qual­i­fied suc­cess?

It’s a long story that be­gins with schol­arly work on ozone de­ple­tion in the 1970s, which led to the March 1985 Vi­enna Con­ven­tion, fol­low­ing two long and ar­du­ous years of in­ter­na­tional talks. To take the talks to the treaty level, an­other round would be re­quired and the Aus­tri­ans sug­gested that Canada should be the host na­tion in recog­ni­tion of its role in achiev­ing the Vi­enna Con­ven­tion.

And then in May 1985, Bri­tish sci­en­tists made the stun­ning an­nounce­ment that a hole in the ozone layer had ap­peared over Antarc­tica.

Not only has the Mon­treal Pro­to­col led to the elim­i­na­tion of over 99 per cent of ozone de­plet­ing sub­stances, it has also, as re­ported by the Euro­pean En­vi­ron­ment Agency, ‘avoided green­house gas emis­sions by an amount 5-6 times larger than the tar­get of the Ky­oto Pro­to­col’.

In other words, there was lit­er­ally a hole in the sky.

As the New York Times re­ported four years ago, the news “caught the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion in a way few discoveries do.”

Peo­ple ev­ery­where un­der­stood that if the earth was our home, there was a hole in the roof.

While ozone de­ple­tion has been stopped, the hole in the sky is still 7.6 mil­lion square miles, twice the size of Canada. The good news is, as a Wash­ing­ton Post head­line re­cently re­ported: “The Earth’s ozone hole is shrink­ing and is the small­est it has been since 1988.”

Orig­i­nally, the Mon­treal Pro­to­col was to re­duce CFCs by 50 per cent by 1999. Later, it was agreed that all CFC pro­duc­tion would cease by 2000.

The Mon­treal Pro­to­col set a new stan­dard for an in­ter­na­tional treaty.

As our lead ne­go­tia­tor, Vic­tor Bux­ton, later wrote in a re­view of the Mon­treal Pro­to­col’s dis­tinc­tive fea­tures: “It put in place an in­ter­na­tional process for con­trol­ling all ozone layer de­plet­ing sub­stances. It did this by:

pro­vid­ing both a short and longterm plan for ad­dress­ing all of the ozone de­plet­ing sub­stances.

pro­vid­ing a man­dated phase­down that stim­u­lated prod­uct de­vel­op­ment for en­vi­ron­men­tally ac­cept­able sub­sti­tutes or al­ter­na­tives (the phase­down also af­fected mar­ket be­hav­iour through plac­ing con­straints on sup­ply and de­mand);

it sig­nalled to all pro­duc­ers of th­ese con­trolled sub­stances that so­ci­ety’s tol­er­ance of th­ese chem­i­cals would be short-lived and fu­ture in­vest­ment de­ci­sions should be made ac­cord­ingly;

it put in place a dy­namic sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy-driven process whereby the strin­gency and scope of the con­trols can be ad­justed in re­sponse to the cur­rent un­der­stand­ing of the sci­ence, the en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects, the tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the eco­nomic con­sid­er­a­tions;

it pro­vided, within its own frame­work, an in­cen­tive for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to join the Pro­to­col with­out fear of ad­di­tional eco­nomic hard­ship for hav­ing done so;

it pro­vided for trade sanc­tions as a way of deny­ing those who chose to re­main non-par­ties ac­cess to the world’s most lu­cra­tive mar­kets.”

The in­clu­sive frame­work meant that rather than lim­it­ing the Mon­treal Pro­to­col to the 30odd coun­tries that made ODS’s, ev­ery­one in the world came on board, 191 na­tions at the time, 197 to­day.

In 1991, it also es­tab­lished the Mul­ti­lat­eral Fund for the Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Mon­treal Pro­to­col, which has pro­vided more than US$3.5 bil­lion to help de­vel­op­ing coun­tries phase out ozone de­plet­ing sub­stances. The sec­re­tar­iat was lo­cated in Mon­treal, which has be­come an im­por­tant hub for the ex­e­cu­tion of global and continental en­vi­ron­men­tal agree­ments. The sec­re­tar­iats for the Mul­ti­lat­eral Fund, the NAFTA Com­mis­sion for En­vi­ron­men­tal Co­op­er­a­tion, and the bio­di­ver­sity treaty un­der Rio, are all lo­cated in Mon­treal.

And in­dus­try, which had been a big part of the problem, be­came an im­por­tant part of the so­lu­tion. I like to cite the ex­am­ple of DuPont, then the world’s largest man­u­fac­turer of CFCs. DuPont re­sponded to the chal­lenge by tran­si­tion­ing out of CFCs and cre­at­ing in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies that not only made the com­pany a good cor­po­rate cit­i­zen but in­creased its prof­its. They be­came Green in more ways than one.

The 30th an­niver­sary of the Mon­treal Pro­to­col pro­vides coun­tries around the globe with an his­toric op­por­tu­nity to rat­ify the 2016 Ki­gali Amend­ment that would re­duce GHG emis­sions from hy­droflu­o­ro­car­bons by 80 per cent over the next 30 years.

Re­duc­ing HFCs will also avoid up to 0.5 de­grees Cel­sius of global warm­ing by the end of the cen­tury, which will be a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to achiev­ing the goal of lim­it­ing global warm­ing to 2 de­grees Cel­sius. While HFCs cur­rently ac­count for 1 to 2 per cent of GHG emis­sions, if left unchecked they could ac­count for as much as 10 per cent by 2050.

The Ki­gali Amend­ment was ap­proved in October 2016 by all 197 par­ties to the Mon­treal Pro­to­col. If 20 sig­na­to­ries of the Mon­treal Pro­to­col rat­ify the Ki­gali Amend­ment, it will enter into force on Jan­uary 1, 2019.

The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment, un­der the lead­er­ship of Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter McKenna, ad­vo­cates rat­i­fi­ca­tion, and I strongly en­dorse this im­por­tant step for­ward on cli­mate change.

For Canada, rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the amend­ment and the re­duc­tion of HFC emis­sions will help us meet our tar­gets un­der the Paris Agree­ment— re­duc­ing GHG emis­sions to 30 per cent be­low 2005 levels by 2030.

In that sense, the road to Paris runs through Mon­treal.

The will, and the votes, to make that hap­pen are in this room.

Make no mis­take, it was the po­lit­i­cal will to make it hap­pen, in the light of alarm­ing em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence of ozone de­ple­tion, that drove the Mon­treal Pro­to­col to its suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion 30 years ago. It is called lead­er­ship.

At the time, there was gen­eral agree­ment on the problem, but no con­sen­sus on a so­lu­tion.

But there were two ob­vi­ous im­per­a­tives—po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment and the in­volve­ment of in­dus­try as part of the so­lu­tion.

Both were key ele­ments in the suc­cess­ful ne­go­ti­a­tions that re­sulted in the Mon­treal Pro­to­col.

Lead­er­ship at the na­tional level, and co­or­di­nated lead­er­ship at the in­ter­na­tional level, par­tic­u­larly in the global fo­rum of the UN.

My friend Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan, as con­ser­va­tive as he was, was equally a con­ser­va­tion­ist, who loved the great Amer­i­can out­doors. He lived for week­ends at Camp David and va­ca­tions at his ranch in Cal­i­for­nia. He was also a sur­vivor of skin can­cer. He got it. And he was a good lis­tener.

I should also say about my friend Pres­i­dent Rea­gan that he over­came his ini­tial skep­ti­cism about acid rain to work with us in de­vel­op­ing an ap­proach to deal­ing with it.

On March 11, 1981, when Ron­ald Rea­gan vis­ited Ot­tawa for the first time as pres­i­dent, he was greeted by thou­sands of pro­test­ers on Par­lia­ment Hill. They shouted and waved plac­ards that con­veyed a sin­gle pow­er­ful mes­sage: “Stop Acid Rain!”

Ten years later al­most to the day, on March 13, 1991, the first Pres­i­dent Bush and I signed the U.S.-Canada Air Qual­ity Agree­ment, also known as the acid rain ac­cord, in the Cen­tre Block on Par­lia­ment Hill. There wasn’t a pro­tester in sight.

I re­garded it as a lit­mus test of Canada-U.S. re­la­tions and said so to both Pres­i­dent Rea­gan and Pres­i­dent Bush.

At the Sham­rock Sum­mit in Que­bec City in March 1985, we agreed to the nam­ing of Spe­cial En­voys on Acid Rain, for­mer On­tario Pre­mier Bill Davis for Canada and for­mer Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Drew Lewis for the United States.

They com­pleted their im­por­tant work in Jan­uary 1986. On the U.S. side, Pres­i­dent Rea­gan ac­cepted their rec­om­men­da­tion for $5 bil­lion for de­vel­op­ing clean en­ergy, in­clud­ing $2.5 bil­lion for demon­stra­tion and in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy over five years. And in his ad­dress to Par­lia­ment in April 1987, he con­cluded with a sen­tence he added to his speech fol­low­ing a work­ing lunch at 24 Sus­sex. “The Prime Min­is­ter and I agreed,” he de­clared, “to con­sider the Prime Min­is­ter’s pro­posal for a bi­lat­eral ac­cord on acid rain, build­ing on the tra­di­tion to con­trol pol­lu­tion of our shared in­ter­na­tional waters.”

But even as we were talk­ing to the Amer­i­cans, we were tak­ing ac­tion with the prov­inces and in­dus­try, im­ple­ment­ing a “clean hands pol­icy” of lead­ing from the front.

Even be­fore the Sham­rock Sum­mit, in Fe­bru­ary 1985, within only six months of tak­ing of­fice, we had al­ready per­suaded the seven prov­inces east of Saskatchewan to agree to re­duce their sul­fur diox­ide emis­sions to 50 per cent be­low 1980 levels by 1994.

The Clean Hands nar­ra­tive also gave us moral lever­age when I had the high hon­our of ad­dress­ing a Joint Ses­sion of the U.S. Congress in April 1988.

As I told them: “We ac­knowl­edge our re­spon­si­bil­ity for some of the acid rain that falls on the United States. Our ex­ports of acid rain to the U.S. will have been cut in ex­cess of 50 per cent. We are ask­ing noth­ing more than this from you.”

And I left Congress with this ques­tion: “What would be said of a gen­er­a­tion of North Amer­i­cans who found a way to ex­plore the stars, but al­lowed their lakes and forests to lan­guish and die?” A quar­ter cen­tury later, we have an­swered the ques­tion—we have not al­lowed our lakes, rivers, streams and forests to lan­guish and die. Acid rain is no longer an issue in pro­tect­ing our en­vi­ron­ment and our qual­ity of life.

We an­swered the call.

The present gov­ern­ment, un­der the lead­er­ship of the Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter McKenna, has also an­swered the call, be­gin­ning with the Paris Agree­ment in De­cem­ber 2015. The gov­ern­ment is also phas­ing in a car­bon price over five years be­gin­ning in 2018—ex­cept for Que­bec and On­tario, which have cre­ated cap and trade mar­kets—while also ap­prov­ing the pro­posed twin­ning of the Kin­der Mor­gan Trans Moun­tain Pipeline.

The en­vi­ron­ment and en­ergy are not com­pet­i­tive, they are com­ple­men­tary pub­lic pol­icy is­sues.

Canada has the world’s third-largest proven re­serves of oil and we are not go­ing to leave 170 bil­lion bar­rels of oil in the ground. But we need to ex­tract the re­source and trans­port it to tide­wa­ter in an en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able man­ner, and the en­ergy in­dus­try in Al­berta has al­ready made sig­nif­i­cant strides in this re­gard and Cana­di­ans have the in­ge­nu­ity to do the rest.

Al­low me to con­clude on a per­sonal note on cli­mate change and global warm­ing. The sci­ence is in­con­tro­vert­ible, and the ev­i­dence is be­fore our eyes every day—in the wild­fires that have raged in the forests of Al­berta, Bri­tish Columbia and Cal­i­for­nia, and in the hur­ri­canes in­cu­bated in the warm­ing waters of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mex­ico that have dev­as­tated Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. and Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands.

The United Na­tions weather agency says that 2017 is set to be­come the world’s third warm­est year on record, be­hind only 2015 and 2016, when record tem­per­a­tures were driven by El Nino. In other words, the last three years will go down as the warm­est in world his­tory.

So, while there is much to cel­e­brate on this aus­pi­cious an­niver­sary, there is much to be vig­i­lant about. Min­is­ter McKenna has taken up the good fight as a cham­pion of the en­vi­ron­ment on be­half of us all.

In this, party or par­ti­san lines should be min­i­mized as much as pos­si­ble. We are all on the same side, de­ter­mined to leave a bet­ter world and a more pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment to our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. It is the least we can do. In the spirit of the Mon­treal Pro­to­col, let’s get to work. Right here. Right now.

Even be­fore the Sham­rock Sum­mit, in Fe­bru­ary 1985, within only six months of tak­ing of­fice, we had al­ready per­suaded the seven prov­inces east of Saskatchewan to agree to re­duce their sul­fur diox­ide emis­sions to 50 per cent be­low 1980 levels by 1994.

En­vi­ron­ment Canada photo

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Brian Mul­roney, with En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna, de­liv­ers the key­note ad­dress at the UN con­fer­ence on the 30th an­niver­sary of the Mon­treal Pro­to­col, Novem­ber 20, 2017.

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