2. International Environmental Law

2. The initial agreements

 In 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden. This was the first international environmental conference of its kind, and it stimulated the creation of environmental ministries throughout the world and the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme. Further progress was achieved in Montreal, Quebec with the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, a landmark international environmental agreement.

In the early 1970s, evidence had accumulated showing that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were damaging the ozone layer in the stratosphere and increasing the amount of ultraviolet B (UV-B) radiation reaching Earth’s surface. As a result of the Protocol, however, production of the most damaging ozone-depleting substances was eliminated by 1996 in ‘developed’ countries and should be phased out by 2010 in ‘developing’ countries.

Without the Protocol, the levels of ozone depleting substances would have been five times higher than they are today, and surface UV-B radiation levels would have doubled in the northern hemisphere. On current estimates, the CFC concentration in the ozone layer is expected to recover to pre-1980 levels by the year 2050, a major achievement for environmental concerns.


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