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The depletion of stratospheric ozone became a political problem in the United States in the early 1970s during the discussion over the establishment of a commercial fleet of supersonic transports. The use of CFCs in aerosol spray cans became a major political problem in the mid-1970s, and the United States prohibited the non-essential use of CFCs as aerosol propellants in 1978.

Negotiations for a global accord to regulate CFC use began in the 1980s and resulted in the 1987 Montreal Protocol. The trajectory of policy responses to stratospheric ozone depletion is examined in this research. The evolution of stratospheric ozone depletion policy can be broken down into two stages.

The first stage focuses on the rise of stratospheric ozone depletion as a domestic concern in the 1970s in the United States and several other nations, while the second stage focuses on its transition into an international issue in the 1980s.

In addition to the emergence of stratospheric ozone depletion as an international political issue, three other factors are important in understanding the sources of the Montreal Protocol: (/) the evolving scientific understanding of the problem, (2) growing public concern about the problem due to the threat of skin cancer and the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, and (3) the availability of acceptable CFC substitutes.



In September 1987, representatives from 24 countries signed the “Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer,”1 an international agreement meant to minimise global production and use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

This convention is the outcome of years of negotiations between the major CFC producing countries, facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It was created in response to a developing international consensus on the need to safeguard stratospheric ozone from CFC depletion.

The Montreal Protocol is a watershed moment in history because it is the first international treaty for managing a global atmospheric problem before major environmental consequences have been decisively identified.

As a result, the Montreal Protocol has piqued the interest of both scientists and policymakers, who have suggested that it can serve as a model for international accords on other global environmental issues, particularly CO2 and trace-gas-induced global warming.
However, before making such a comparison to other environmental issues, it is necessary to understand the Montreal Protocol in its historical and political context.

The Montreal Protocol demonstrates that novel answers to such global environmental challenges are conceivable. Depletion of stratospheric ozone is an example of both the complicated and global nature of contemporary environmental concerns.

worry about stratospheric ozone has progressed from a minor environmental worry to a serious policy problem of national and international importance over the last two decades. Understanding the value of the Montreal Protocol and its implications for other global atmospheric concerns requires an examination of this evolution.

The development of stratospheric ozone policy can be divided into two stages: (1) the mid- and late-1970s development of domestic regulations controlling CFC use in aerosol spray cans in the United States and several other countries, and (2) the 1980s development of an international policy response to the problem of global stratospheric ozone depletion.

These are not distinct issues. The concern expressed in the United States, Canada, Sweden, and other nations that took unilateral measures to restrict CFCs in the 1970s obviously prompted the formation of a worldwide reaction. However, the many significant differences between stages I and II make this distinction a useful analytical tool.

I argue that four key factors are important in understanding the evolution of stratospheric ozone policy: (1) recognition of ozone depletion as a global problem requiring an international response; (2) evolving scientific understanding of stratospheric ozone depletion and its influence on policymakers; and (3) growing public concern based on the threat of skin cancer and the perception of the potential for global catastrophe associated with the discovery of the stratospheric ozone hole.

The evolution of stratospheric ozone policy is examined in this research. The first section examines the science of CFC-induced stratospheric ozone depletion. The following two parts examine the rise of stratospheric ozone depletion as a national political issue in the United States during stage I, as well as its evolution to an international political concern during stage II.

This is followed by a discussion of how the developing scientific understanding of the problem, the catastrophic nature of the threats, and the availability of CFC alternatives influenced the final international agreement negotiations. The final portion looks at the Montreal Protocol and its chances of success.


Chlorofluorocarbons are a class of synthetic chemical compounds that are inert, nontoxic, and nonflammable. They are used as aerosol propellants, in refrigeration and air conditioning, in plastic foams for insulation and packaging, and as solvents for cleaning electrical components.

CFCs come in many different forms; the most prevalent are CFC-11 and -12, while CFC-113 has considerable industrial applications as a solvent. CFC production has increased dramatically since the 1960s, peaking in 1974 before reducing due to the decreased use of CFCs as aerosol propellants.

However, non-aerosol use increased, and by the mid-1980s, CFC production had returned to pre-1970 levels (see Figure 1).

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