Professor Nigel Paul provides an assessment of the effects of ozone depletion to World governments and, a few days later, discusses the issue with his Lancaster students.

Nigel joined policy makers from 197 countries at the 25th meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer, designed by the United Nations (UN) to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances and so protect the earth’s fragile ozone layer. 

At the meeting on October 21-25 in Bangkok, Thailand, Nigel presented the report of the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, which he co-chairs.

“We are a group of scientists who assess the recent science of ozone depletion, how it interacts with climate change, affects human health and the environment,” explains Nigel, research director of the Lancaster Environment Centre. 

“We chart all the key scientific progress and then present this directly to the 197 governments present in a way that policy makers can understand.”

Science affecting policy 

The Protocol, the most ratified treaty in the United Nation’s history, enables world Governments to respond quickly to new scientific information. This accelerates reduction required on chemicals already covered by the Protocol and the inclusion of new chemicals that pose a threat to the ozone layer. 

The Protocol has enabled reductions of over 97% of all global consumption of controlled ozone depleting substances since it began in 1987.

“Ozone depletion remains a significant environmental issue, despite the undoubted success of the Montreal Protocol,” Nigel said. “Governments continue to work together to prevent further depletion, and it is vital that their decisions are based on good science.”  

‘The major topic for discussion by the Parties this year was the possible control of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a new generation of compounds that replace ozone-damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).  

“The challenge now is that some HFCs are very potent greenhouse gases, so the Parties are working together to find ways of achieving the double benefit of protecting both the ozone layer and climate”.

Turning experience into teaching

Closer to home, this year’s meeting was timely for Nigel’s teaching. “I am currently delivering a final year course on how scientific progress is translated into policy, so its great to be able to speak from immediate first hand experience”. 

 

Photograph courtesy of IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin.