The Montreal Protocol stimulates changes to production and consumption patterns and supports more efficient production processes. The phaseout of ozonedepleting substances has stimulated innovative redesign of products, processes and equipment to use greener chemicals and technologies. The Protocol’s Kigali Amendment will build on these achievements through the phasingdown of high global warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
SDG12 aims to implement a ‘framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production.’ The Montreal Protocol helps to achieve this aim in several ways, but especially in relation to Target 12.3, which is to ‘halve per capita global food waste’ and Target 12.4, which aims to ‘achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.’ The Protocol provides examples of success in encouraging shifts to more sustainable practices in companies (Target 12.6) and individuals (Target 12.8), and in strengthening science and technology relevant to more sustainable consumption and production (Target 12.A).
Target 12.3 aims to reduce food waste, which currently results in the loss of about 30 per cent of food produced every year. The Montreal Protocol makes a particular contribution to reducing losses ‘along production and supply chains, including postharvest losses,’ which are an important component of food waste. One route by which the Montreal Protocol has contributed to reducing postharvest food wastage is through the profound changes in refrigeration and airconditioning that have resulted from the phaseout of ozone depleting substances (ODSs), as described under SDG7. These changes have enabled major improvements in the efficiency of refrigerators and air conditioning units, a process that is continuing through the Kigali Amendment. Improved energy efficiency reduces the running costs, and so improves equitable access to the coldchain of postharvest refrigeration.
The Montreal Protocol has phased out methyl bromide, a potent ODS previously used very widely for pest and disease control during crop production and storage. As well as being a threat to the ozone layer, methyl bromide is toxic to humans and other organisms. In some uses methyl bromide has been replaced by alternative chemical fumigants, but now increasingly by a range of non-chemical approaches within integrated pest management systems. The phaseout of methyl bromide has stimulated a broader transition to new, sustainable approaches to agricultural production systems, not just in pest and disease control but also in fertilization and irrigation practices.
The phaseout of ODSs under the Montreal Protocol is an exceptionally successful example of ‘environmentally sound management of chemicals’ (Target 12.4). Since the Protocol was signed in 1987 it has achieved the replacement of ODSs by alternatives that are not only ozonesafe but also less damaging to climate, and less toxic to humans and other organisms. The 2012 ‘The Montreal Protocol and the Green Economy’ report highlights that this transformation in chemical management applies across multiple sectors, including aerosols, foams, refrigeration and airconditioning, solvents, sterilants, firefighting and pest control.
Today, the Montreal Protocol continues to drive the shift towards ‘environmentally sound management of chemicals’ through its Kigali Amendment. Agreed in 2016, and in force as of 2019, the Kigali Amendment introduced controls on hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs. HFCs were developed as ozonesafe replacements for ODSs, especially in airconditioning and refrigeration. However, since some HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases, the Kigali Amendment now encourages the use of a new generation of refrigeration technologies that are safe for both the ozone layer and climate. As the parties to the Montreal Protocol developed the Kigali Amendment, they took great note of the energy efficiency and safety of these new refrigeration technologies, both to users and the environment.
Over the last three and half decades the shift from ODS to the latest generation of alternative technologies across multiple sectors is a unique example of success in supporting ‘companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices’ (Target 12.6). Before the Montreal Protocol, the use of ODSs was a keystone of many commercial activities and their use was increasing rapidly. Replacing ODSs was a profound challenge for companies of all sizes and across many business sectors, yet that replacement was rapid, and in most cases, complete. The Montreal Protocol and The Green Economy report notes that this dramatic shift also stimulated ‘considerable improvements in production efficiencies’ and led ‘industries to adapt processes, redesign equipment and renew components.’
The image of the Antarctic ozone hole has become emblematic in ensuring that ‘people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature’ (Target 12.8). The Montreal Protocol has developed a strong network of national ozone officers who take a lead in training and outreach activities in developing countries. This sustained success of the national ozone officer network is a major route by which the Montreal Protocol contributes to supporting ‘developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production’ (Target 12.A). This is reinforced by the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol and through UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) OzonAction unit. OzonAction also assists the work of the Ozone Secretariat in producing educational material and other information.