Climate policy

Why we may never get a Montreal protocol for climate change

  • 12 Sep 2014, 15:10
  • Mat Hope

Good news! Earlier this week, scientists announced that the hole in the ozone layer has  stopped growing.

The news comes almost three decades after every member of the United Nations signed the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to curb emissions known to damage the atmosphere.

Some  have argued that the protocol's success shows what can happen when governments put their minds to tackling major environmental problems. Why, they ask, can't politicians do the same thing for climate change?

The question has been posed  many times, most recently by the Guardian's George Monbiot. Yesterday, he called on politicians to  show the same "political courage" they did back in 1987. If they do, maybe the world will at last see some tangible progress towards cutting emissions and curbing global warming, he argues.

But is political will the only thing stopping politicians establishing a comprehensive climate treaty? We explore the obstacles to creating the equivalent of the Montreal protocol for climate change.

Complex science

The Montreal protocol and international climate agreements are similar in as much as they both try to address problems in the atmosphere identified by scientists.

But the relatively simple impact of emitting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on the ozone layer may have made the issue easier for policymakers to engage with than climate change.


UN seeks billions to fill climate adaptation funding gap - but where's it going to come from?

  • 11 Sep 2014, 17:25
  • Mat Hope

The world's climate adaptation efforts have a funding problem. But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hopes that situation is about to change.

He's invited world leaders to   a climate summit in New York in two week's time, where countries are expected to indicate how much they'll give to the UN's Green Climate Fund.

The fund was set up in 2009 to help poorer countries insulate themselves from the worst impacts of climate change. The initiative relies on the world's developed economies pledging cash. But after an initial flurry of donations, the fund is starting to run dry.


Countries created the Green Climate Fund at the Copenhagen summit five years ago. The agreement was hailed as one the  few successes of the otherwise disappointing summit.

The fund is politically important, as it offers developed countries a chance to back up their promise to help poorer countries cope with climate change with hard cash.

Countries promised that by 2020 they'd collectively be giving $100 billion to the fund each year. It's never been clear how much countries were expected to donate between now and 2020, however.


Analysis: Polling finds widespread doubt amongst Conservative MPs about climate science

  • 11 Sep 2014, 09:00
  • Leo Barasi

A new poll of UK Members of Parliament has found widespread doubts about climate science, particularly among Conservative MPs. 

The poll, conducted for PR Week by Populus and  reported in the Guardian yesterday, found that 51 per cent of MPs think that man-made climate change is "an established scientific fact". Two in five think it is a theory that "has not yet been conclusively proved", while nearly one in ten say man-made climate change is "environmentalist propaganda".

The findings suggest that MPs have similar views on climate science to those of the general public. A poll in August 2013 by Opinium for Carbon Brief, with similar questions,  found that 56 per cent believe that climate change is happening and is caused by humans.

Polling 1

Polling 2b

MP attitudes on climate change (Populus, 2014) and public attitudes ( Opinium, 2013).