CIESIN Reproduced, with permission, from: Rowlands, I. H. 1993. The fourth meeting of the parties to the Montreal Protocol: Report and reflection. Environment 35 (6): 25-34.

The Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol: Report and Reflection

By Ian H. Rowlands

Between 23 and 25 November 1992, representatives from more than 100 states gathered in Copenhagen for the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Copenhagen gathering was significant not only because the international community had to respond to the ongoing deterioration of the Earth's protective layer of stratospheric ozone but also because it was one of the first major international environmental conferences to be held after the June 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The results of the fourth meeting might therefore suggest the extent to which UNCED cemented the international community's commitment to the goal of sustainable development.

Although scientists suggested as early as the 1960s that human activities were damaging the ozone layer, the issue did not attract significant attention until 1974. At that time, two scientists hypothesized that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could destroy substantial amounts of stratospheric ozone. (1) With this supposition, the international debate about the ozone layer was launched.

Following unilateral actions by some countries, an international agreement was opened for signature in 1985. This document, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, acknowledged the potential severity of the problem but did not impose any obligations upon nations. (2) Building on this achievement, 27 countries signed a landmark protocol in Montreal in September 1987 (the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer) that committed every signatory state to reduce its use of certain CFCs by 50 percent of their level of use in 1986 by 1999. (3) Three years later, at a meeting in London, the Montreal protocol was strengthened in a number of ways: The use of many CFCs and halons was to be eliminated by the turn of the century, and new controls were to be introduced on a variety of other ozone-depleting substances. (4) The scope of the process was also widening, for more than 80 countries agreed to these changes in London. Thus, the Montreal protocol, as adjusted and amended in London, was the legal linchpin of the international regime to protect the ozone layer. (5)

During 1992, as in many years throughout the history of the ozone layer issue, scientific findings sparked the political process. In January, researchers discovered ozone losses of up to 20 percent in the Northern Hemisphere and a maximum depletion over Russia of between 40 and 45 percent below normal for a few days. These findings prompted the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to issue the following statement: "On the whole, the 1991-92 winter can be classified among those with the most negative deviation of systematic ozone observations, which started in the mid-1950s." (6) Given that this depletion was not only severe but also unexpected, many argued that the need to preserve the ozone layer demanded a reconsideration of the terms of the Montreal protocol. (7) Moreover, they maintained that the implications of a thinner ozone layer could not be easily dismissed: The incidence of skin cancers, cataracts, and infectious diseases among humans would increase; agricultural yields of certain crops would fall; many manufacturing materials would weaken prematurely; and ecosystems would destabilize. (8)

This scientific information was fed into the political process. As required under the terms of the Montreal protocol, the signatory parties continued to meet to consider the state of the ozone layer regime. (9) In addition to the Copenhagen meetings, the other key gatherings in 1992 were the sixth and seventh meetings of the Open-Ended Working Group, which took place in Geneva in April and July, and a set of informal consultations that was called and convened in Brussels in September by Mostafa K. Tolba, then executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Moreover, there were three sets of meetings in Copenhagen in November: the eighth meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group, the preparatory meeting, and the fourth meeting itself. Although newly discovered scientific evidence was suggesting that the parties should strengthen the terms of the protocol, the economic and political atmosphere indicated that such action was not guaranteed.

Upon arrival in Copenhagen, the negotiators realized that they had a number of different issues to resolve. Unlike at other meetings, however, CFCs were not the focus of their attention. Most parties agreed that these chemicals, which were the first to generate significant concern about ozone depletion, should be eliminated by 1 January 1996. (10) Although there were still questions about intermediate targets before the conference began--some delegations wanted 80-percent reductions (compared to 1986 levels) by 1994, while others did not want any intermediate obligations 11)--both the phase out date and a 75-percent reduction by 1 January 1994 were eventually agreed upon. (12)

However, this agreement does not mean that CFCs will go the way of the dodo within a couple of years because some production will continue for two reasons. First, the parties recognized that there may be some essential applications for CFCs for which no practical substitutes exist. Their use as propellants in anti-asthma inhalers is the example cited most often. Negotiators therefore committed themselves to consider by 1994 what applications should be so classified (by 1993 for applications of halons). (13) Critics claim that this clause has created a potentially gaping loophole. Others maintain that, because such exceptions will be judged on a case-by-case basis, experts will be able to ensure that this exemption does not, in effect, open the floodgates. Another reason why CFCs will not necessarily become extinct is that, under the terms of the original protocol, parties in the developed world can continue to produce CFCs after 1996, as long as the production is used to meet the basic domestic needs of developing countries during their "grace period"--that is, until 2006.

There may, however, be some problems in meeting both of these needs for CFCs during the coming years because the CFC industry is dying and cannot be expected to attract any significant new producers. Moreover, existing producers' interest in continuing their production of CFCs is, for obvious reasons, rapidly waning. Because CFCs do not lend themselves to small-scale production, the decline in production may be not only rapid but complete. (14) Although the existence of surplus demand (over supply) suggests that some manufacturers will find it in their economic interest to fill this market niche, some nations' legislation to curtail windfall profits may diminish the attraction. It is somewhat ironic that, whereas, in 1986, there was too much production, in 1996, there may be too little. And although it is unlikely that this will become a major problem, representatives from the developing world have expressed fears about potential supply shortages.

Nevertheless, the advances that have been made are monumental. Only six years ago, many countries had to be dragged reluctantly to the negotiating table to agree to reduce their production and consumption of these chemicals by 50 percent by the end of the century. This past November, these same countries agreed to a CFC phase out in just three years, and the timetables for phasing out halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform were also brought forward. (15) This sea-change in attitudes is truly remarkable.

There was greater debate at the fourth meeting, however, about some of the substances that are being proposed and used as alternatives for CFCs. The most frequently identified candidates are from the hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) family of chemicals. These substances are now being produced and can replace CFCs in many applications. Nevertheless, HCFCs also contain some chlorine (though less) and therefore destroy some stratospheric ozone. (16) For this reason, it is generally accepted that HCFCs are not the final and definitive solution to the CFC problem.

At the Copenhagen meeting, those supporting some use of HCFCs argued that society's primary goal must be to eliminate CFCs as quickly as possible. Although there are problems associated with the use of HCFCs, they are, at present, the most attractive alternatives. Thus, the argument continues, it is better to use the lesser of the two evils while more appropriate alternatives are being developed and tested. In this instance, therefore, the ends justify the means.

Others, however, challenged this assertion by arguing that suitable alternatives to CFCs and HCFCs do exist. To support this claim, they pointed to the fact that a refrigerator using a mixture of propane and butane (two ozone-benign substances) has been developed by DKK Scharfenstein in Germany. (l7) Moreover, they argued, international regulation could both encourage the scientific development of suitable substances and add to the commercial attractiveness of such alternatives. Indeed, the experience in banning the CFCs suggests that this may happen. (18) They further noted, however, that the corollary also holds: "The development of technologies which do not use either controlled or transitional substances can be inhibited because the prospect of technology using transitional substances discourages investment in technology that would only be profitable if transitional substances were not acceptable." (19) The motivations for industry's position, they argued, were to secure and to protect its established markets. (20)

Industry representatives maintained that an impending ban on HCFCs would destroy the commercial incentives for producers to make the chemicals and for manufacturers to use them in their products and processes. They claimed that a slower phase out was appropriate so that businesses would be able to recoup their research, development, and capital investments. Without this reprieve, companies would continue to use ozone-damaging CFCs while waiting for more suitable alternatives. (21) Moreover, they argued that, notwithstanding the example of the refrigerator, the case for ozone-benign alternatives was not strong: Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs, a family of chlorine-free substitutes) are strong greenhouse gases, and the more traditional chemicals, such as ammonia, butane, and pentane, have problems with toxicity and flammability.

In the end, the negotiators agreed to cap their use of HCFCs in January 1996 at a level equal to the sum of their HCFC use in 1989 and 3.1 percent of the level of their use of CFCs in 1989. This formula acknowledges both the considerable existing uses of HCFCs and their role as transition substitutes for CFCs. Subsequent to that, the parties agreed to reduce their use of HCFCs by 35 percent by 2004, by 65 percent by 2010, by 90 percent by 2015, by 99.5 percent by 2020, and by 100 percent by 2030. (22) The relatively late date of 2030 for the final phase out can be at least partially explained by the political clout of those who were supporting the arguments cited above--namely, industry and the United States. Industry's representatives were out in force in Copenhagen. In fact, there were three times as many industry delegates as delegates of nonindustry nongovernmental organizations. Moreover, by sending seven employees to the preparatory meeting in Copenhagen, DuPont had at least as many representatives (if not more) than all but six of the countries. (23)

The U.S. delegation also had a particular interest in securing this timetable because the country would be particularly hindered by a more imminent phase out of HCFCs. The largest pieces of equipment that use HCFCs are the air conditioners that cool office buildings. The country that makes the most use of these large machines is the United States. Because these air conditioners have economic lifetimes of up to 40 years, business people want to ensure that they will be able to keep them operational throughout this period. (24) The 0.5-percent usage allowed between 2020 and 2030, which the U.S. delegation demanded and received, guarantees these machines' continued utility. Although the history of the ozone layer debate suggests that the phase out dates for HCFCs will be brought forward, it may be that the United States and others will be able to qualify such uses of HCFCs as "essential" in the future. Regardless, U.S. determination prevailed in Copenhagen because resistance by Europe, in particular, was hindered by intra-European Community squabbling during the proceedings. (25)

Since the last meeting of the parties, pressure had mounted to identify methyl bromide as a controlled ozone-depleting substance. Although the scientific assessment panel of the protocol noted that its findings still had significant uncertainties, the panel still believed that methyl bromide's status as a significant ozone depletor was beyond doubt. (26)

Most of the methyl bromide that is emitted as a result of human activities comes from fumigation of soils (82 percent), quarantine and commodity fumigation (13 percent), and structural fumigation (5 percent). (27) In l990, about 67,000 tons of the substance were produced commercially. Forty-two percent of that production was in North America, 29 percent was in Europe, and 22 percent was in Asia. (28)

In Copenhagen, the debate about methyl bromide revolved, to a significant extent, around the North-South axis. Industrialized states, led by the United States, were calling for a substantial cutback in the use of this chemical. (29) They were persuaded by the science and also believed that a 25-percent reduction could be achieved by more efficient use of the chemical. In addition, the experience of the Netherlands suggested that even more dramatic cutbacks were possible; that country had responded to public concerns about the impact of methyl bromide on the local environment by phasing it out completely during the 1980s. (30)

Developing countries, however, led by Israel, were adamant in their opposition to any regulation. (31) Not only did they maintain that the science was still plagued by too many uncertainties, (32) but they also noted that the preamble to the protocol ensured that any measures should take "into account technical and economic considerations and [bear] in mind the developmental needs of developing countries." (33) With respect to economic issues, there were two major fears. First, if cutbacks in the production of methyl bromide did occur, then the subsequent decrease in supply and increase in price would affect the availability of the product in the developing world. (In this respect, it is important to note that the use of methyl bromide has been increasing in the developing world. (34)) Second, industrialized countries might not only impose restrictions upon methyl bromide as a bulk chemical but also regulate those products whose manufacture requires the use of methyl bromide (as is being considered for CFCs (35)). In this way, nontariff barriers upon the developing world's agricultural products might be erected because both fumigation procedures and quarantine requirements necessitate the use of methyl bromide.

During the negotiations, the debate about methyl bromide was closely linked to the negotiations about the international funding mechanism. In the end, a compromise was reached in that it was agreed that developed countries would freeze their methyl bromide production at 1991 levels by 1995. (36) However, further action will await the publication of a more complete assessment report. (37)

Financial assistance for developing countries was one of the most hotly debated issues in Copenhagen. By the end of 1989, all parties had agreed that the countries of the North had a responsibility to take the lead in addressing the ozone depletion issue because they had produced most of the substances that had destroyed stratospheric ozone. At the review meeting in London, negotiators from industrialized countries substantiated these words by establishing an Interim Multilateral Fund. Valued at $240 million over its first three years, the fund's resources were to be used to help developing countries phase out ozone-destroying chemicals.

The fund was designed to last only until the protocol, as amended in London in June 1990, had been ratified by 20 parties and gone into effect. Ratification of the amendments was not as quickly forthcoming as had initially been expected; the necessary 20 instruments of ratification were not deposited until 12 May 1992. Therefore, the London amendments did not go into effect until 10 August 1992 (90 days later). Regardless of the date of ratification, however, the document stipulates that the parties are subsequently obliged to establish a more permanent structure for international resource transfers. From a reading of the protocol, one would not expect debate about this commitment to arise. (38) However, during 1992, it did.

More specifically, an alternative proposition was put forward at a meeting of the protocol's Open-Ended Working Group in Geneva in July 1992. At that time, the British, supported by the Dutch, suggested that the responsibilities for funding technology and resource transfers to developing countries should be shifted to the Global Environment Facility (GEF). (39) GEF, established by the World Bank, UNEP, and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in 1990, finances projects and training programs that will ameliorate the damaging global environmental impacts of any development project. The British-Dutch initiative was formally followed up by a proposal tabled by the French and the Italians. (40)

Those who wanted GEF to be the administering body for the resource transfers cited a variety of reasons to support their case. First, they claimed that efficiency dictates that there should be one central body concerned with all of the different global environmental problems. (41) For this reason, some developed countries were pleased that GEF emerged from the Earth Summit with enhanced responsibilities: It was identified as the interim financial mechanism for the biological diversity and climate change conventions.

Second, they preferred the decision making procedures that are used in GEF because the World Bank (with its weighted voting structures) exercises considerable influence over the process. (42) The Interim Multilateral Fund, in contrast, has an executive committee composed of an equal number of representatives from the developed and the developing worlds, with one each from Canada, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Russian Federation, and the United States as well as from Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritius, and Venezuela.

Third, these representatives complained that the interim fund has had a less than auspicious start. They maintained that it has taken an unacceptably long time to get projects up and running--anywhere from 12 to 18 months. Moreover, if the fund has had such difficulties in dealing with relatively small amounts of money, they worry about what will happen in the future as the fund continues to expand. Therefore, given both their desire to support GEF and their opposition to the fund, some developed countries pressed for the funding responsibilities to be transferred.

This view, however, was adamantly and vigorously opposed by many other countries, which maintained that the fund has had a promising start. In Copenhagen, the chairman of the fund's executive committee, Mexican Ambassador Juan Mateos, reported that "a total of US $27,221,000 [had] been disbursed for investment projects in 12 countries, [which will lead to] the phase out of 25,000 tons of [ozone-depleting substances]." (43) Although they accepted that there had been some difficulties, they argued that those that could not be explained as simple "teething problems" had arisen because some donor countries had been lax in fulfilling their financial obligations. (44) Although $53 million had been pledged for 1991, only $42 million had been received by 19 November 1992. Similarly, for 1992, $73 million had been pledged, but only $50 million was received. (45) Therefore, they argued that there is no fundamental problem with the structure of the fund; the difficulties had arisen because of the lack of financial support for it.

Many delegates from the developing world were just as adamant in their opposition to GEF. They claimed that, despite the facility's "green" facade, it nevertheless assesses projects according to predominantly economic criteria. And because GEF is dominated by the World Bank, they were also repelled by its closed and undemocratic nature and supported the alternative form of governance used by the fund. Moreover, they argued that this decision making machinery must have worked well enough because all decisions made by the executive committee thus far had been made by consensus; no vote had yet been held.

Additionally, although they accepted that GEF had been given additional responsibilities by UNCED, they also pointed out that UNCED's Agenda 21 endorsed GEF as only one part of the financial picture. (46) Finally, they were ready to challenge any inflation of GEF's experience and noted that the facility was not an established mechanism because it was only just coming out of its "pilot stage."

On a more general level, representatives from the developing world argued that, since the establishment of the interim fund, they had played a full and constructive role in the development of the ozone layer regime. (47) They thought that it was generally accepted that the fund was a necessary condition for their ongoing support. Therefore, they found it not only surprising but also disturbing to see some developed countries reneging on their part of this understanding.

In the end, it was agreed that the fund would be made permanent. While the developing world "conceded" new controls on methyl bromide, the developed world "conceded" the establishment of a permanent ozone fund, called the Multilateral Fund. It was further accepted that the level of funding for the period from 1994 to 1996 would be between $340 million and $500 million, with the amount for 1994 to be at least as much as the $113 million promised for 1993 (48) A review mechanism was also approved, although GEF was not explicitly mentioned as such. (49)

Although controls on ozone-depleting substances and the international funding mechanism were the most visible issues during the negotiations, they were not the only ones to be considered important by participants in Copenhagen. Indeed, it was accepted that several other issues could become vital in the future. For example, with the targets for reducing and phasing out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals being continually brought forward, there is an increasing need to resolve how to destroy the banned chemicals. The second meeting of the parties, held in London in June 1990, had established an ad-hoc technical advisory committee on destruction technologies for ozone depleting substances. The committee met and subsequently recommended six destruction processes, all of which involved some form of incineration. (50) The committee also recommended that a UNEP advisory committee be formed both to reduce the uncertainties and to ensure that the latest technological advances were taken into consideration. This decision was not without controversy; some claimed that there are non-incineration options that are preferable because they do not have other environmental consequences. (51) As phase out dates approach, this debate will undoubtedly grow.

There were also discussions about the role of countries with "economies in transition" in the ozone layer regime. For the most part, this phrase referred to East European countries and those of the former Soviet Union, though South Africa also argued that its domestic changes merited extraordinary consideration. These countries wanted to be given special exemptions both from their share of the contributions to the Multilateral Fund and from meeting some of the control targets on ozone-depleting chemicals. (52) The response from other parties to this request was firm: Although they accepted that these countries were undergoing remarkable transformations, they were not willing to institutionalize any such allowances. (53) Concern was voiced, in particular, about the signals that the sanctioning of noncompliance would send. In the end, a "Decision of the Parties" acknowledged that these countries may have some difficulties in meeting their obligations; nevertheless, they were encouraged to do all they could to fulfill them. (54)

More generally, questions of compliance and noncompliance are growing because the obligations upon states are increasing and the dates by which some obligations must be discharged are rapidly approaching. Yet, there is still widespread inaction and much ignorance among CFC users. Indeed, if the ozone layer regime is to maintain its legitimacy, many are arguing that it must have an effective reporting, monitoring, and conflict resolution system. Accordingly, the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group of Legal Experts on the Non-Compliance Procedure has become more important. (55)

Although the future politics of the ozone layer are obviously beyond prediction, some observations can still be made about possible future events and general trends. In all probability, the parties will continue to meet annually to discuss the state of the ozone layer. It is expected that the next one, the Fifth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, will be held in Nairobi in October or November 1993. Although all gatherings of the parties are important for the development of the regime, it appears that the 1995 meeting will be particularly significant. By that time, the protocol's assessment panels will have completed their third reports (in 1994, with the first two having been issued in 1990 and 1992), and their findings may provide the basis for further adjustments or amendments to the protocol.

Moving from the probable to the highly possible, history suggests that the phase out schedules for each of the controlled chemicals will be brought forward. In this regard, a consensus seems to be growing that HCFCs will soon be more tightly regulated. Although the future of methyl bromide as a controlled chemical seems less clear, the fact that it has been listed as a controlled substance is no small achievement. And future changes to its control schedule will not require amendments to the protocol but only adjustments. In this way, the debate has moved beyond "first principles." Furthermore, there may be pressures in the future to amend the protocol so that other chemical compounds (say, anything containing either chlorine or bromine) would be brought under the agreement. The number of compounds that could one day fall under the protocol is enormous. For instance, when the members of the assessment panel were charged with the task of determining the ozone-depleting potentials for HCFCs and HBFCs (hydrobromofluorocarbons), they were expected to return with about 30 figures, but, because these substances have many different isomers, they returned with some 500 values. (56) This is indicative of the immense number of possible ozone-depleting substances. Indeed, scores of doctoral candidates around the world are undoubtedly attempting to discover new ozone-depleting substances. (57)

Recent history also leads one to believe that participation in the protocol will continue to grow. All of the present nonparties are developing countries, and there are significant forces encouraging them to sign and to ratify the amended protocol. In theory, the advantages of becoming a party include financial and technical assistance through the Multilateral Fund, transfer of the latest technology, and access to world markets because, through the technical and financial assistance, parties will be in a better position to acquire technologies for producing and using substitutes as well as for reducing use and emission of controlled substances. The disadvantages of not being a party include the inability to import controlled substances from parties after 1 January 1993 (thus making it difficult to service existing equipment); closed access to world markets because parties are to ban the import of products containing controlled substances after 2 May 1993; and difficulties in obtaining new technologies. (58)

Notwithstanding these incentives, the participation of both nonparties and parties from the developing world will undoubtedly depend on the condition of the financial mechanism. Already, representatives from some developing countries are maintaining that the level agreed in Copenhagen might be inadequate because not only are the number of parties to the protocol increasing (with all of the newcomers being developing countries), but the number of substances being regulated is also growing. Therefore, the size of the fund may continue to be a point of debate in the future. (59) With a review of the obligations of the developing countries as a whole scheduled for 1995, the seventh meeting has the potential to be one of the most critical during the coming years.

Ozone depletion can be depicted as an international collective goods problem because, although every national leader desires an undamaged ozone layer, every national leader might also perceive it to be economically rational to continue activities that destroy stratospheric ozone. (60) To resolve this dilemma and thereby preserve the quality of the global environment, national leaders must cooperate to build "effective international institutions to guide international behavior toward sustainable development". (61)

The agreements that have been reached on the ozone layer issue, along with the respect accorded them, reveal that members of international society have been able to address some of the challenges associated with this particular issue. In a little more than 10 years, political negotiations have yielded a strong legal instrument that is at the heart of an equally strong international regime. Because few now question the need to take action to halt and reverse the destruction of the Earth's protective ozone layer, the politics of the ozone layer may be entering a new phase--one no longer solely concerned with how the regime might be formed but, rather, how it might be strengthened and maintained.

These comments notwithstanding, no one should assume that the problem of ozone layer depletion is by any means solved. Ozone-depleting chemicals will continue to be produced for a number of years to come, and deterioration of the ozone layer is expected to continue well into the next century. (62) How the regime evolves, therefore, will be crucial. At least three elements of the broader debate are likely to continue to be critical factors.

First, scientific findings have been important forces in encouraging politicians to accept more rapid phase out schedules. (63) This has been evident throughout the issue's history from the 1974 scientific paper that initially implicated aerosol spray-cans as ozone depletors; to the 1985 discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica; to the increasing depletion during the first 10.5 months of 1992; and, finally, to the Copenhagen meeting itself, where a scientific article was issued that argued that, if global warming were to occur, the likelihood of an ozone hole over the Arctic would increase. (64) As for the future, because the contributions of scientists have been formalized and institutionalized in the documents of the regime, their influence would seem to be assured. Clearly, the protocol is flexible enough to respond to ongoing scientific findings. In this way, the ongoing work of the protocol's assessment panels, in particular, is critical.

Second, the power of industrialized interests in the political process is equally undeniable. (65) Perhaps the most important event during the period immediately after the 1987 conference in Montreal was the announcement by DuPont officials, in March 1988, that their goal was "an orderly phase out of fully halogenated CFC production." (66) The availability, however, of commercially feasible substitute chemicals may have been a contributing factor to DuPont's decision. (67) In Copenhagen, the hypothesis that industrial interests are crucial seemed to be given more weight. Representatives from the United States, for example, often directed attention to the domestic economic costs associated with accelerated phase out timetables, (68) and French officials placed high value on the interests of French industry during the HCFC negotiations. Moreover, representatives from the developing world also highlighted costs of regulations, particularly the costs of regulating methyl bromide. As the debate about transition substances continues, countries will continue to defend their national interest--perceived primarily in broad economic terms--and will therefore remain hesitant about entering into commitments that place substantial burdens on their indigenous industries.

Finally, much of the negotiation will continue to turn on a North-South axis. Since 1989, when developing countries first played a visible role in the deliberations, the question of resource transfers--both in terms of the quantity that is required and the way in which they will be governed--has been at the heart of this debate. At the end of the Copenhagen meeting, it was clear that there were two important structures for the transfer of resources in international society: the Multilateral Fund and the Global Environment Facility. The precedential value of each will undoubtedly continue to be the subject of much debate during the foreseeable future. (69) Additionally, however, the much stickier question of technology transfer has yet to be resolved adequately within international society. Although many accept the notion that countries of the developing world must "leap-frog" the dirty technologies now being phased out in the industrialized world, it remains to be determined how the transfer of the next generation of technologies will be facilitated. Although most representatives from developed countries accept the need for technology transfer, they also argue that it is not theirs to give because it is owned by private companies. Moreover, they are hesitant to weaken intellectual property rights, lest they destroy the incentives for research and development. (70)

Together, then, science, economics, and politics-- broadly defined--will all be crucial in the evolution of the international regime to protect the ozone layer. Although international negotiators achieved much at the recent meeting in Copenhagen, the issue is by no means resolved. Meanwhile, the problem of ozone depletion is only one element on the enormous agenda of international environmental issues and, at that, a relatively "small" and "easy" problem to solve. Still, the experience that has been gained by addressing ozone depletion could prove to be invaluable as the international community attempts to resolve much more complex dilemmas, such as climate change and the loss of biological diversity.


An earlier version of this article was presented to a panel at the British International Studies Association's 1992 conference held on 15 December 1992 at the University College of Swansea in Wales. The author would like to thank the participants at that meeting and Tim O'Riordan for their helpful comments. Funding for the author's trip to the Copenhagen meeting was provided by the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment. The author is grateful to the center for its generous support.


1. M. J. Molina and F. S. Rowland, "Stratospheric Sink for Chlorofluoromethanes: Chlorine Atom-Catalyzed Destruction of Ozone," Nature 249 (28 June 1974):810-12.

2. Reprinted in International Legal Materials 26 (1989):1516-40.

3. Reprinted in International Legal Materials 26 (1989):1541-61.

4. Reprinted in International Legal Materials 30 (1991):539-54.

5. For more historical information on this issue, see, for example, P. M. Morrisette, "The Evolution of Policy Responses to Stratospheric Ozone Depletion," Natural Resources Journal 29, no. 3 (Summer 1989):793-820; and I. H. Rowlands, "The International Politics of Global Environmental Change," in I. H. Rowlands and M. Greene, eds., Global Environmental Change and International Relations (Basingstoke, England: Macmillan, 1992), 19-27.

6. World Meteorological Organization, "On the State of the Ozone Layer in 1992," UNEP/OzL.Pro.4/Inf.2 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992), pt. 6.

7. It was accepted that natural chlorine emissions--in particular, the volcanic eruptions of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in June 1991 and of Mount Hudson in Chile--would have also exacerbated the problem.

8. See, for example, UN Environment Programme, Environmental Effects of Ozone Depletion: 1991 Update (Nairobi: UNEP, November 1991).

9. Note 3 above, see Article 11, "Meetings of the Parties."

10. UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/OzL.Pro/ WG.1/7/4 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992), 9, note 37.

11. Ibid.

12. UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/OzL.Pro.4/15 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992), 32.

13. Ibid., 25, Decision IV/25 of the meeting.

14. As J. A. Krol, the vice chairman of DuPont, observed, "CFC manufacture cannot be made into an efficient cottage industry." (Remarks by J. A. Krol at the International CFC and Halon Alternatives Conference, Washington, D.C., 29 September 1992).

15. Halons are to be eliminated by 1 January 1994, and the other two are to be phased out at the same time as CFCs. UNEP, note 12 above, pages 32-35.

16. Because it has a shorter atmospheric lifetime, one HCFC molecule will destroy a much smaller amount of stratospheric ozone than will one CFC molecule. This shorter lifetime, however, means that the HCFC's destruction of ozone will also take place much sooner. Opponents of HCFCs, therefore, point to its relatively high five year ozone-depleting potential, which is 0.51 and 0.19 for HCFC-123 and HCFC-22, respectively, while supporters of the chemical highlight its low 500-year ozone-depleting potential, which is 0.02 and 0.05 for HCFC-123 and HCFC-22, respectively. See S. Solomon and D. L. Albritton, "Time-Dependent Ozone Depletion Potentials for Short- and Long-Term Forecasts," Nature 357 (7 May 1992):33-37.

17. See, for example, J. Vidal, "Second Front: The Big Chill," The Guardian, 19 November 1992, T2.

18. See, for example, R. E. Benedick, Ozone Diplomacy: New Directions in Safeguarding the Planet (London: Harvard University Press, 1991).

19. UN Environment Programme, Report of the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (Nairobi: UNEP, December 1991), 3-6.

20. Although this argument was being advanced most vocally by environmental groups--in particular, Greenpeace--some countries, such as Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland, also supported a relatively early phaseout of HCFCs.

21. Indeed, UNEP's Refrigeration Equipment Technical Options Committee notes that "HCFCs are generally accepted as the solution for a rapid CFC phaseout. The costs of the transition from CFC to HCFC refrigerants will be high due to retrofitting and obsolescence. There has to be confidence at the user level that the operation of the equipment can be guaranteed for a reasonably long period; otherwise there will be prolonged CFC use awaiting 'more certain solutions.'" UNEP, note 19 above, page 7-2.

22. UNEP, note 12 above, page 37, Amendment to the Protocol.

23. The six are Canada, Denmark, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition, both the Greenpeace and the Industrial Technology Research Institute (Taiwan) delegations were larger than this. See UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/OzL.Pro/WG.1/8/Inf.1 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992).

24. Although some claim that HFC-134a could now be used for large industrial air conditioners (it has been commercially available for about a year and a half for use in new and existing systems), the U.S. delegation not only highlighted HFC134a's potential contribution to global warming but also claimed that it was not as energy efficient. W. K. Reilly, U.S. EPA Administrator, Statement during press conference in Copenhagen, 23 November 1992.

25. See note 20 above. The French government, reportedly working in the interests of one of its assets (namely, the French chemical company, Atomchem, which is the world's largest producer of HCFCs), resisted both a lower figure for the 1996 cap and an advancement of the initial phasedown date for HCFCs. Because the European Community (EC) had competence in this area (compared to, for example, questions about the international funding mechanisms, where EC states could formulate positions independently), the EC could not offer a strong common position in response to the U.S. one. See The ENDS Report, "Ozone Layer Left at Risk by New Global Agreement," no. 214, (November 1992):14.

26. UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/OzL.Pro/ WG.1/6/5 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992), 7, point 34. Also, see UNEP, Methyl Bromide: Its Atmospheric Science, Technology, and Economics: Synthesis Report of the Methyl Bromide Interim Assessment Panels (Nairobi: UNEP, June 1992).

27. Ibid., 21.

28. Ibid., 28.

29. The U.S. delegation had originally put forth a proposal that called for the elimination of nonessential uses of methyl bromide by the year 2000 (see UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/0zL.Pro.4/2 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992), 18). Moreover, its unique interest in the debate arose from the fact that the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments require a ban by the year 2000 on substances with an ozone-depleting potential of more than 0.2.

30. Statement of Dutch representative during plenary session of the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the 0zone Layer, Copenhagen, 23-25 November 1992.

31. Although Israel was the most vocal in opposition to the ban, the alternative amendment, which simply proposed that countries be obliged to report their use of the chemical, was proposed by Chile. See UNEP, note 29 above.

32. UNEP, note 10 above, page 12, point 55. A group called the Methyl Bromide Global Coalition also claimed that 85 percent of the methyl bromide released into the atmosphere emanates from natural sources.

33. Note 3 above, Preamble to the Montreal protocol.

34. UNEP, note 10 above, page 12, point 56.

35. Note 3 above, article 4, "Control of Trade with Non-Parties."

36. UNEP, note 12 above, page 38, Amendment to the protocol.

37. Ibid., 22, Decision IV/23 of the parties.

38. UN Environment Programme, "Terms of Reference for the Interim Multilateral Fund," Handbook for the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, 2d ed. (Nairobi: UNEP, October 1991), 55(b), paragraph 14.

39. UNEP, note 10 above, page 21, point 108. The ozone layer issue is already within GEF's remit to a limited extent because GEF is responsible for assistance to those countries that are not Article 5 parties, such as the countries of Eastern Europe.

40 UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/Ozl.Pro/4CRP.1 (Nairobi: UNEP, 16 September 1992).

41. GEF's five areas of concern are climate change, biological diversity, international waterways, desertification, and ozone layer depletion.

42. There are proposals to have GEF restructured, and discussion was to have taken place during December on this issue. For more information about GEF, see, for example, GEF, The Pilot Phase and Beyond, Working Paper Series no. 1 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, May 1992).

43. UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/OzL.Pro.4/8 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992). Moreover, the executive committee had approved a further 60 projects that would lead to another 31,600 tons being eliminated.

44. Friends of the Earth claims that nonpayment has impaired the workings of the fund. In June 1992, the group says, projects were actually scaled back because of the fund's inability to pay for them. Consequently, the fund is not able to make commitments in advance of contributions. See R. Round, At the Crossroads: The Multilateral Fund of The Montreal Protocol (London: Friends of the Earth International, 1992).

45. Informal document distributed at the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol and entitled "Status of Contributions by Parties Towards the Trust Fund for the Interim Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol for 1991, 1992 and 1993" (UNEP, 19 November 1992).

46. Agenda 21, in the form that was agreed to in Rio, maintains that "funding for Agenda 21 and other outcomes of the Conference should be provided in a way which maximizes the availability of new and additional resources and which uses all available funding sources and mechanisms. These include, among others,...multilateral development banks and funds,...the relevant specialized agencies, other United Nations bodies and other international organizations, which have designated roles to play in supporting national Governments in implementing Agenda 21,...multilateral institutions for capacity-building and technical cooperation,...bilateral assistance programs,...debt relief,...[and] private funding." United Nations, "Financial Resources and Mechanisms," chapt. 33 of Agenda 21 (New York: United Nations, 1992).

47. The term regime is used here as it is used in much of the international relations literature. See, for example, S. D. Krasner, ed., International Regimes (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1984). On the question of regime maintenance and efficacy, see, for example, O. R. Young, "The Effectiveness of International Institutions: Hard Cases and Critical Variables" in J. N. Rosenau and E.-O. Czempiel, eds., Governance Without Government: Order and Change in World Politics (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

48. UNEP, note 12 above, page 19, Decision IV/18 of the meeting.

49. Ibid., 21.

50. UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/OzL.Pro.4/4 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992).

51. Environmental groups, in particular, were advancing this point.

52. Comments made during the plenary session of the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, Copenhagen, 23-25 November 1992.

53. UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/OzL.Pro.4/10 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992), 4, point 15.

54. UNEP, note 12 above, page 22, Decision IV/21 of the parties.

55. Accordingly, the work of the Implementation Committee will become more important. See UNEP, note 12 above, pages 46-47; and, also, O. Greene, "Building a Global Warming Convention: Lessons from the Arms Control Experience?" in M. Grubb and N. Steen, eds., Pledge and Review Processes: Possible Components of a Climate Convention (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1990), xxi-xxxiii.

56. UN Environment Programme, doc. no. UNEP/OzL.Pro/WG.1/8/L.1 (Nairobi: UNEP, 1992), 10, point 53 (Robert Watson of the U.S. National Aeronautic and Space Administration is quoted in this document).

57. The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) identifies a few such substances: methyl chloride, methylene chloride, chloroform, tetrachloroethane, and dichloroethane. See IEER, "The Potential Contribution of Anthropogenic Methyl Chloride and the Longer-Lived Chlorocarbons to Stratospheric Ozone Loss," Working Paper no. 2 (Copenhagen: IEER, November 1992).

58. Ozone Action, "The Montreal Protocol and Its Implications," no. 4 (September 1992):4.

59. A consultant's report for the Copenhagen meeting estimated that $1.99 billion would be needed for the period from 1997 to 2010. An estimate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was roughly in line with this. A. Markandya, The Montreal Protocol, Funding The Incremental Costs For Article 5 Countries: A Review and Update (London: Metroeconomica, June 1992), 6.

60. See, for example, G. Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons," Science 162 (13 December 1968): 1243-48.

61. M. A. Levy, P. M. Haas, and R. O. Keohane, "Institutions for the Earth," Environment, May 1992, 13.

62. "The controls on HCFCs agreed in Copenhagen will allow HCFC consumption to increase globally from around 220,000 tons in 1989 to anywhere between 600,000 and 800,000 tons in 1996." The ENDS Report, note 25 above, page 15.

63. See, for example, P. M. Haas, "Banning Chlorofluorocarbons: Epistemic Community Efforts to Protect Stratospheric Ozone," International Organization 46, no. 1 (Winter 1992): 187-224.

64. Molina and Rowland, note 1 above; J. C. Farman et al., "Large Losses of Total Ozone in Antarctica Reveal Seasonal CLOx/NOx Interaction," Nature 315 (16 May 1985):207-10; WMO, note 6 above (Additionally, in the middle of November 1992, the World Meteorological Organization reported that the Antarctic ozone 'crater" had lost up to 65 percent of its ozone in the second half of September and early October); and J. Austin, N. Butchart, and K. P. Shine, "Possibility of an Arctic Ozone Hole in a Doubled-CO2 Climate," Nature 360 (19 November 1992):221-25.

65. Note the importance placed upon economic factors in the preamble of the protocol (quoted in the text accompanying note 33) and in note 23 above.

66. DuPont: First Quarter Report, "Summary of the Chairman's Remarks (27 April 1988)," 1988, 4.

67. I. H. Rowlands, "International Regime Formation: The Politics of Ozone Layer Depletion and Global Warming" (Ph.D. diss., London School of Economics and Political Science, May 1992), chapt. 3.

68. For the United States, the costs of complying with the original protocol were estimated to be $35 billion over the next century, and the cost of the accelerated timetables agreed in Copenhagen was estimated to be an additional $2 billion. The Financial Times, "Saving the Ozone Layer," 26 November 1992, 20.

69. The Indian minister, in particular, highlighted the possibility that the permanent Multilateral Fund could establish "a successful working model of North-South cooperation" (Statement of Shri Kamal Nath, Minister for Environment and Forests, India, 23 November 1992).

70. See, for example, R. Pool, "A Global Experiment in Technology Transfer," Nature 351 (2 May 1991):6-7.

IAN H. ROWLANDS is a lecturer in environment and development at the London School of Economics and Political Science.