In 1989, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer entered into force. Its objective is to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The protocol covers around 100 individual substances with a high ozone-depleting potential (ODP), including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride (CTC), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs), bromochloromethane (BCM) and methyl bromide (MB), all of which are referred to as ‘controlled substances’. Within the EU, the use of and trade in substances is regulated by Regulation (EC) No 1005/2009 (known as the Ozone Regulation). The Ozone Regulation is more ambitious than the Montreal Protocol and goes further in many aspects, for instance it has a quicker phase-out schedule, covers more substances and regulates not only substances in bulk, but also those contained in products and equipment.
The EU continues to phase out ODS and is meeting its commitment under the Montreal Protocol. In 2020, the consumption of controlled substances remained negative and amounted to -2,023 metric tonnes, down from -387 metric tonnes in 2019. The consumption of controlled substances, when expressed in metric tonnes, was largely driven by consumption of CTC, HCFCs and CFCs. Expressed in ODP tonnes, consumption in 2020 was also below zero and amounted to -2,043 ODP tonnes, down from 61 ODP tonnes in 2019.
For more information and data reported by companies under the Ozone Regulation, see the online ODS data viewer.
Despite progress, more needs to be done. From 2012, unexpectedly high concentrations of the ODS CFC-11 were detected in the atmosphere, suggesting that its production had resumed illegally. Sources of CFC-11 accounting for 40 to 60 % of the global increase were identified in eastern mainland China, although preliminary data suggest that emissions decreased after 2017, both globally and from China. It will be important to ensure that the illegal trade in ODS is addressed, as this could delay ozone layer recovery significantly.
It will also be important to ensure that international and European legislation is strengthened, for instance by including ODS not covered at present. Evidence suggests that chemicals not covered play a role in depleting the ozone layer, for instance very short-lived substances, such as dichloromethane. Levels of such substances have increased, uncontrolled, by around 60 % in the past decade, which could delay ozone recovery by 30 years.