Avoided atmospheric carbon dioxide increases due to the Montreal Protocol

Young, Paul and Harper, Anna and Huntingford, Chris and Paul, Nigel and Morgenstern, Olaf and Newman, Paul A and Oman, Luke D. and Madronich, Sasha and Garcia, Rolando (2021) Avoided atmospheric carbon dioxide increases due to the Montreal Protocol. Nature, 596. pp. 384-388. ISSN 0028-0836

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The control of the production of ozone-depleting substances through the Montreal Protocol means that the stratospheric ozone layer is recovering1 and that consequent increases in harmful surface ultraviolet radiation are being avoided2,3. The Montreal Protocol has co-benefits for climate change mitigation, because ozone-depleting substances are potent greenhouse gases4,5,6,7. The avoided ultraviolet radiation and climate change also have co-benefits for plants and their capacity to store carbon through photosynthesis8, but this has not previously been investigated. Here, using a modelling framework that couples ozone depletion, climate change, damage to plants by ultraviolet radiation and the carbon cycle, we explore the benefits of avoided increases in ultraviolet radiation and changes in climate on the terrestrial biosphere and its capacity as a carbon sink. Considering a range of strengths for the effect of ultraviolet radiation on plant growth8,9,10,11,12, we estimate that there could have been 325–690 billion tonnes less carbon held in plants and soils by the end of this century (2080–2099) without the Montreal Protocol (as compared to climate projections with controls on ozone-depleting substances). This change could have resulted in an additional 115–235 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which might have led to additional warming of global-mean surface temperature by 0.50–1.0 degrees. Our findings suggest that the Montreal Protocol may also be helping to mitigate climate change through avoided decreases in the land carbon sink.

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01 Jun 2022 14:55
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27 Nov 2023 00:25