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Has the Montreal Protocol been worth it?

Last updated 18 February 2002
Originally answered 18 January 2002

Full Question

Has the Montreal Protocol been worth it?


The “1998 UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) Assessment: Environmental Effects of Ozone Depletion” provides a list of “Frequently Asked Questions about Stratospheric Ozone Depletion” at the following web site:

The following FAQ addresses your question.

FAQ 23. “Has the benefit of the Montreal Protocol been worth the cost?”

“Yes. Several attempts have been made to investigate the economic impacts of the problem of a depleted ozone layer. Such attempts meet with many problems. There are good reasons for concern for effects on humans, animals, plants and materials, but most of these cannot be estimated in quantitative terms. Calculating the economic impact of such effects is uncertain. Moreover, economic terms are applicable only to some of the effects, such as the cost of medical treatments, and the loss of production in fisheries and agriculture, and damage to materials; but what is the cost equivalent of suffering, of a person becoming blind or dying, or the loss of a rare plant or animal species?

In spite of all these difficulties, attempts have been made. The most comprehensive example is a study initiated by Environment Canada for the 10th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. In this study, ‘Global Costs and Benefits of the Montreal Protocol’ (1997), the costs were calculated for all measures taken internationally to protect the ozone layer, such as replacement of technologies using ozone-depleting substances. The benefits are the total value of the damaging effects avoided in this way. The total costs of the measures taken to protect the ozone layer were calculated to be 235 billion US (1997) dollars. The effects avoided world-wide, though far less quantifiable, were estimated to be almost twice that amount. This latter estimate included only reduced damage to fisheries, agriculture and materials. The cataracts and skin cancers, as well as the potential associated fatalities avoided, were listed as additional benefits, and not expressed in economic terms.”

The above entry is posted under the following topic(s): Mitigation of Ozone Depletion

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