IGSD WASHINGTON D.C. March 2009 - The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Dr. Stephen O. Andersen (EPA Climate Protection Partnerships Division) along with coauthors Drs. Guus J.M. Velders (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency), John S. Daniel and David W. Fahey (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Mack McFarland (DuPont Fluoroproducts) has earned its prestigious Level II Scientific and Technological Achievement Award for notably excellent research in support of environmental protection.

The scientists were recognized for their landmark paper: “The Importance of the Montreal Protocol in Protecting Climate,” which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(12):4814-4819 (2007). This paper also earned the 2007 United Nations Environment Programme Award for the “Best New Paper on a Montreal Protocol Related Topic: Science Category.”

“The science policy presented in the Velders paper energized diplomats and citizens to take action on climate outside of the Kyoto Protocol,” said Dr. Mario Molina, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. “Parties to the Montreal Protocol have taken another step in sustaining the Earth.”

In the paper, the research team synthesized stratospheric ozone and climate science to show that past actions under the Montreal Protocol had dramatically protected climate by leading to reduced atmospheric amounts of ozone-depleting substances, compounds which are also greenhouse gases that warm climate. In addition, the team outlined what actions could further protect climate. These findings inspired the Parties to the Protocol in 2007 to accelerate the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), in 2008 to encourage collection and destruction of unwanted ozone-depleting substances, and in 2009 to consider a phase-down of the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are greenhouse gas alternatives to ozone-depleting substances.

These recent actions taken under the Montreal Protocol are increasingly important in light of approaching tipping points for abrupt climate change events. “Maximizing the climate mitigation potential of the ozone treaty is a key “fast-action” strategy for reducing the risk of abrupt climate change,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, “and a critical complement to strategies to cut emissions of CO2, the dominant greenhouse gas.”

“This is policy-relevant research at its finest,” said Zaelke. “In one elegant paper diplomats were able to see for the first time that the Montreal Protocol had already pulled the climate back from catastrophe and that further efforts to protect the ozone layer would also protect the climate even more.”

Dr. Andersen is co-chair of the Montreal Protocol Technology and Economic Assessment Panel and Drs. Velders, Daniel, Fahey and McFarland are members of the Montreal Protocol Scientific Assessment Panel.

“The Montreal Protocol community is proud that policy to protect the stratospheric ozone layer is based on the best available scientific knowledge,” said Marco Gonzalez, Head of the Ozone Secretariat. “People of the Earth owe these dedicated scientists a debt of gratitude for helping to make the environment safe for future generations.”

The Scientific and Technological Achievement Award is an agency-wide competition sponsored by the Office of Research and Development that recognizes outstanding scientific and technological papers published by EPA employees. Each year since 1980, EPA scientists and engineers have submitted their publications to be evaluated by a panel convened by EPA’s Science Advisory Board who recommend Awards for final decision by EPA. The award inspires EPA scientists to publish in peer reviewed literature to improve the credibility of the science underpinning Agency decisions.

Source: Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development