The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is the landmark multilateral environmental agreement that regulates the production and consumption of nearly 100 man-made chemicals referred to as ozone depleting substances (ODS). When released to the atmosphere, those chemicals damage the stratospheric ozone layer, Earth’s protective shield that protects humans and the environment from harmful levels of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Adopted on 15 September 1987, the Protocol is to date the only UN treaty ever that has been ratified every country on Earth – all 198 UN Member States.
The Montreal Protocol phases down the consumption and production of the different ODS in a step-wise manner, with different timetables for developed and developing countries (referred to as “Article 5 countries”). Under this treaty, all parties have specific responsibilities related to the phase out of the different groups of ODS, control of ODS trade, annual reporting of data, national licensing systems to control ODS imports and exports, and other matters. Developing and developed countries have equal but differentiated responsibilities, but most importantly, both groups of countries have binding, time-targeted and measurable commitments.