Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Saving the Earth’s ozone layer is one thing, but halting global warming is quite another, a University of Tennessee environmental policy analyst said Wednesday.

Dr. David Feldman said a 1987 plan to preserve atmospheric ozone was possible because of international agreements on substitutes for ozone-destroying chemicals such as some refrigerants and cleaning agents, sanctions against countries that use harmful chemicals and helping developing countries.

The ozone layer protects the Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

A recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association shows the 1987 plan, known as the Montreal Protocol, is working. A study reported in the current issue of Science magazine shows a drop in ozone-destroying chemicals since 1994.

International agreements to control global climate change, triggered mostly by pollution from burning fossil fuels which trap heat in the atmosphere, will be harder to achieve, Feldman said.

Unlike Montreal, nations at a 1992 international environmental summit on global climate change in Rio de Janeiro agreed neither on substitutes for chemicals that cause the problem nor sanctions against polluters, Feldman said.

Also, no help was given to developing countries like China, which are rapidly expanding but don’t have resources to develop substitutes.

“Probably the single most important piece of the Montreal Protocol was establishment of a special ($7 billion) fund called the Global Environmental Facility,” Feldman said. “It made it possible for developing nations to have alternatives.”

Feldman said energy use of countries like the United States is likely to level off, but developing countries are planning to increase energy use drastically.

“The Montreal Protocol shows that negotiating international environmental treaties can work, but in the case of global climate change, we are dealing with a challenge that is an order of magnitude beyond what was reached in Montreal,” Feldman said.

Contact: Dr. David Feldman (423-974-4251)