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Lessons from the Montreal Protocol: Guidance for the Next International Climate Change Agreement

 

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Abstract

The Montreal Protocol for Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is one of the most successful international environmental agreements to date. With a continued spirit of cooperation, the parties to the treaty have consistently relied on important international environmental legal principles as the foundation for adopting effective steps to address stratospheric ozone depletion.

The lessons learned from the Montreal Protocol should be used as guidance to formulate a more effective and successful international response to climate change. The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the international community’s current approach, aimed to emulate the factors contributing to the success of that global response to ozone depletion. However, the Kyoto Protocol deviated from some of the interpretations of important environmental legal principles utilized and exhibited in the Montreal Protocol. As a result, the Kyoto Protocol failed to generate the same effectiveness and international spirit of cooperation which continue to symbolize the negotiations of the parties to the Montreal Protocol.

The climate change regime needs enhanced flexibility, incentives for industry involvement, and increased participation of developing nations. With the commitments of the Kyoto Protocol currently set to expire in 2012, the next international agreement addressing climate change must better incorporate the Montreal Protocol’s success factors. 

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