The Foreign Service Journal, December 2010
D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 0 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 35 F OCUS ON M ULT I LATERAL D I PLOMACY C LIMATE C HANGE N EGOTIATIONS : L ESSONS FROM M ONTREAL he 1987 Montreal Protocol to the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer was a pivotal agreement in the history of global en- vironmental negotiations. What made the negotiation of that agreement such an iconic event? And what useful lessons does it hold for climate change negotiators today? The Montreal Protocol and its amendments addressed the challenge of a deteriorating stratospheric ozone layer that threatened to expose life on earth to greatly increased and damaging levels of ultraviolet radiation. The protocol initially called for a 50-percent reduction by 1999 in the production of chlorofluorocarbons, which had been iden- tified as the principal cause of ozone layer deterioration. The agreement also set up a procedure for regularly re- viewing and revising its provisions at subsequent confer- ences of the parties. These “review and revise” meetings led over the following decade to amendments that in- creased the number of controlled substances and set ear- lier dates for fully phasing them out. The Montreal Protocol A number of factors were critical to the success of the Montreal Protocol. Important among them was the lead- ership role played by the United States from the begin- ning, well before the start of negotiations on the protocol. The United States was among the first to recognize the threat posed by CFCs, and took early action, along with some of the Nordic states, to ban their use in most aerosols. Secretary of State George Shultz named a chief nego- tiator, Richard Benedick, in the summer of 1986, more than a year before the Montreal Protocol was concluded in September 1987. As a result, Benedick, an experienced Senior Foreign Service officer, had ample time to shep- herd the development of the U.S. position through a con- tentious interagency process, which he headed. I T WAS THE PROCESS THAT THE M ONTREAL P ROTOCOL SET IN MOTION , NOT THE AGREEMENT ITSELF , THAT LED TO SUCCESS . B Y R ICHARD J. S MITH T Richard J. Smith, a retired Foreign Service officer, was the principal deputy assistant secretary of State for oceans and international environmental affairs from 1985 until 1994. He is the author of Negotiating Environment and Science: An Insider’s View of International Agreements fromDrift- nets to the Space Station (Resources for the Future Press, 2009). Smith was the chief U.S. negotiator of the 1990 London Adjustments and Amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. This article draws on a policy brief that Mr. Smith pre- pared for the Petersen Institute for International Econom- ics, which is available at www.piie.com/publications/inter stitial.cfm?ResearchID=1645.
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