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Lessons from the Montreal Protocol delay in phasing out methyl bromide


  • Brian Gareau



The Montreal Protocol is the most successful global environmental agreement in history and a shining example of a current generation taking extraordinary precaution in avoiding environmental impacts to future generations. The delayed methyl bromide phaseout, however, alerts us to serious problems that can arise—even in this extraordinary agreement—when actors are allowed to place profit and political concerns over precautionary ones. This is not to say that ozone layer protection is anti-profit for participating companies, governments, and scientific groups or that early successes were not rife with political and economic concerns. The history of this agreement shows us that such concerns existed (see Andersen, this issue; Andersen and Sarma 2002; Gareau 2010). Nevertheless, early successes were found by assuring that the precautionary principle was applied first and foremost in ozone diplomacy (see also Andersen, this issue). The language found in the Protocol’s critical use exemptions to the methyl bromide phaseout in particular illustrates how this important principle was swept aside, as was concern for the global environment, and concerns for corporate profit took its place. While this abuse has occurred only once in the Montreal Protocol’s history, it is important to learn the lessons from this low point in ozone layer politics so that similar mistakes are not made with regard to other important global environmental issues, specifically global climate change. Copyright AESS 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Gareau, 2015. "Lessons from the Montreal Protocol delay in phasing out methyl bromide," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 5(2), pages 163-168, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:5:y:2015:i:2:p:163-168
    DOI: 10.1007/s13412-014-0212-x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. E. Melanie DuPuis & Brian J. Gareau, 2008. "Neoliberal Knowledge: The Decline of Technocracy and the Weakening of the Montreal Protocol," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1212-1229.
    2. Brian Gareau, 2010. "A critical review of the successful CFC phase-out versus the delayed methyl bromide phase-out in the Montreal Protocol," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 209-231, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alexander Ovodenko, 2016. "Governing Oligopolies: Global Regimes and Market Structure," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 16(3), pages 106-126, August.
    2. repec:spr:ieaple:v:18:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10784-018-9393-1 is not listed on IDEAS


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