EU Ozone Depletion and Climate Change Regulation 3000 words

Discuss the evolution of the European Union’s policies relating to ozone depletion and climate change during the last two decades. Why has the European union been successful in the first and not the latter?


The situation for the legislation and the initiatives pertaining to Ozone Depletion and Climate Change as it stands now in terms of the EU response is its commitment to the new aim of the Key Action on Global Change, Climate and Biodiversity (Andersen et al (2005), Grundmann, R., (2006)). This is known as the European Commission’s Environment Programme under the 5th Framework Programme (1998-2002)(Anderson et al 2005). Climate Change and Ozone depletion have been on the agenda of global political actors like the EU since the  1970s following the warnings by scientists about the stratospheric depletion of the Ozone layer which could expose the earth to ultraviolet B radiation (Andersen et al (2005), Grundmann, R., (2006)). Such depletion was aggravated by the presence of the ozone-depleting potentials of the CFC’s and HCFC’s

(Andersen et al (2005), Grundmann, R., (2006)).The media hype provoked by such revelations prompted international response as nations woke up to the reality that even if they ceased all their environmentally harmful activities now it would still take half a century for the ozone layer to repair itself. (Andersen et al (2005), Grundmann, R., (2006)). Thus, in 1985, The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer  was  adopted to remedy such a problem through international scientific co-operation and exchange of information. Following this, in 1987, the Montreal Protocol was set up which, for the first time, placed a restraint upon the production and consumption of ODS and this protocol was subsequently strengthened by the EU MS regime based on the wording of Art.228 of the EU treaty(Aidt, T. 1998), (Anderson, Blackhurst (eds.) (1992),Conconi, P. (2000)). Moreover, the European Commission was given a mandate by the European Council to monitor the EU goals on this issue. Subsequently there have been quite a number of EU responses to this issue. In 1994 there was the council regulation 549/91 on Quantities of controlled substances permitted in 1994 for essential uses under Regulation 549/91. In 1995 the EU Commissioner called for tighter and better controls on HCFCs and methyl bromide to curb ozone depletion (ENDS, 1995).


Evaluating the EU response


Bearing in mind the importance of a coherent framework for addressing any efforts on the global level, Brack.D (1997) has spoken about the Montreal Protocol of 1997 on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and states thus that “a credible Montreal Protocol is required to prevent friction and antagonism between nations as global environmental problems worsen”. According to Brack, this can be remedied through the identification of the “areas of incompatibility between the Protocol and the GATT, particularly in the areas of most-favoured-nation treatment and the elimination of quantitative restrictions.” Even though progress on prevention of ozone depletion has been more successful than similar efforts to prevent climatic changes, there have still been a lot of difficulties with in political ‘arm-twisting’ on an international level and efforts by disgruntled industrialists to prevent closures or losses in their businesses. Oberthur (2008) has blamed the difficulties in the EU’s actions against ozone depletion on the “Lack of leadership by EU in implementing international law despite intentions of Maastricht Treaty and its competence and ability to enforce controls on consumption of ozone depleting substances”.

However, there is hope for international efforts and the EU has emerged as one of the most successful political actors amongst the existing trading blocs in the implementation of the environmental protection strategies. Wagner and Hobley (1999) have observed “we move into the new millennium, we are beginning to see the first signs of an international system of environmental regulation and the formulation of globally recognized principles of environmental protection. This European development is well illustrated in the European Union (“E.U.”) by the development of a common system of environmental protection laws. Increasingly, there is a communality of environmental regulation across the E.U.”

Taking the example of the United Kingdom James (2002) while exploring the reasons behind the UK  government difficulties of meeting EU regulations relating to the recycling of domestic fridges which came into effect October 1, 2000, has stated that this was mainly due to lesser co-operation by the recycling companies and the local governments in the implementation of the Waste management legislation.Grekos(2002) (In a report by The House of Commons’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee which undertook an inquiry into the problems of UK in managing its “fridge mountains”) has blamed this upon the recent difficulties in the interpretation of Article 11 and Article 16 of the new Regulation (EC) No 2037/2000 on Ozone Depleting Substances while stating that this could be remedied if in the future “,the Government would fully assess the impact of European Union Regulations and Directives before it agrees to them. The Government should also look at the forthcoming waste disposal Regulations and Directives as a matter of urgency. The Government should also ensure that in future all relevant stakeholders are consulted as part of the examination of the implications of EU legislation.”(Grekos 2002).


Waste management legislation

EC Directive 94/62/EC

Waste minimization is the key to reducing the amount of waste entering landfill sites and thus preventing Ozone Depletion and climatic changes. If the remaining waste is then recycled, where possible, this should significantly reduce the amount of waste entering landfill. To encourage waste minimization the EC Directive 94/62/EC encourages manufacturers to reduce the use of packaging, which is a major creation of waste. According to the DEFRA website in 2007 there was approximately 10.5 million tonnes of packaging waste produced in the UK, of which 59% was recycled. DEFRA also state that this percentage is significantly higher than the 27% of packaging waste which was recycled in 1998. This directive encourages manufacturers to use less packaging on their products to reduce the packaging waste from 10.5 million tonnes to a more environmentally responsible figure.


The Directive targets, which must be met in the UK in 2008, are as follows:

Overall Recovery60%
Overall Recycling55%



EU Landfill Directive

This is another directive aimed upon reducing the ozone depletion and radical climate changes and this EU Landfill Directive is “”to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment, in particular the pollution of surface water, groundwater, soil and air, and on the global environment, including the greenhouse effect, as well as any resulting risk to human health, from the land filling of waste, during the whole life-cycle of the landfill”. (Defra, 2008)

The targets set by this directive are as follows:

By 2010 the production of biodegradable municipal waste should be reduced to 75% of that produced in 1995

By 2013 the production of biodegradable municipal waste should be reduced to 50% of that produced in 1995

By 2020 the production of biodegradable municipal waste should be reduced to 35% of that produced in 1995

If these targets are met then waste production will be significantly reduced so less waste will go to landfill but most of the waste should be recyclable which would reduce waste going to landfill even further. According to the Waste Strategy (2007) there was 9% less waste entering landfill in the year 2004/05 than in 2000/01, however, this needs to be reduced significantly more in order to meet the targets set out above.


Waste Strategy 2007

The waste strategy presents the waste hierarchy shown below:

  • Re-use
  • Recycle/compost
  • Waste prevention
  • Energy recovery
  • Disposal (taken from the Waste Strategy 2007 executive summary accessed from


The intention of this strategy is to reduce the cost of waste treatment prior to entry into landfill and to save money, as fewer natural resources are required to produce new products (Waste Strategy 2007)The Strategy proposes to issue incentives to householders in order to encourage the reduction of waste, the re-using of materials and finally the recycling of anything that cannot be re-used. The Strategy also suggests the increase in landfill tax as a deterrent from allowing large quantities of waste to enter landfill sites.


There has been a significant focus on sustainability and the environment during the last century and as such, the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 was a potential turning point for the disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) (Read, 1999). Since the 1960s, the recycling of waste has become more important and has progressively been included in more and more government and local council legislation. According to Read (1999), approximately 50% of household waste is recyclable, yet much less than this is actually likely to be recycled. Taking the example of the UK Landfill sites across the UK are reaching their limit and there is a distinct lack of new locations for landfill sites. As a result, waste that is produced throughout the UK will soon have nowhere to be deposited. A more environmentally friendly alternative to waste being deposited in landfill is recycling which the EU legislation has repeatedly endorsed. However, the current recycling rate in the UK is still behind many other European countries such as the Netherlands, who according to figures published in “Municipal Waste Management in the EU 2001″, (February 2003) recycle 59% of their household waste, closely followed by Austria who in 2001 recycled 58% of their household waste (Friends of the Earth, 2008). For comparison, in the same year the UK only recycled 13% of all household waste. It is clear to see that this is significantly different to that of other European countries but the introduction of Kerbside recycling schemes around the UK intends to bring the UK recycling figures in line with the rest of Europe. Over all however the EU seems to have done well in doing playing its part in ensuring a “greener” earth. However the law and initiatives pertaining to climatic changes have seen less success (Aidt, T. 1998), (Anderson, Blackhurst (Eds.) (1992), Conconi, P. (2000)).


Climatic Change and the EU


The Stern Report (2006) on the Economics of Climate Change made some landmark observations as to the detrimental impact of the global warming upon the world economy. While drawing attention to the potential damage caused by unmitigated climate change it stated that,

“The overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever…Damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more. These are risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century…”

(Stern, N. 2006).


The post industrial era presents compelling evidence that the global climate is in a state of flux and will continue to fluctuate sometimes unpredictably and abnormally over the coming decades of the 21st century (United Nations World Tourism Organization 2003). Statistics show that the global mean temperature increased over 0.76°C between 1850–1899 and 2001–2005(IPCC 2007) and this has been attributed to the constantly increasing greenhouse emissions which are said to cause adverse amounts of poisonous concentrations in the atmosphere. (Clarkson, R. 2002:Pearce, D. W. 2006:Pielke, R. A., Jr. 2005). However this is not restricted to greenhouse emissions alone as these changes have extended to include other extreme climatic problems like abnormal temperature and wind patterns (IPCC 2007). The adverse impact of climatic change is not just restricted to our lifestyles and social well being but it also stands as a threat to economies relying solely upon the nature of their climate as an industry  (Yohe et al 2007). Indeed the United Kingdoms Government Policy is increasingly taking into account the fact that in the decades ahead climatic change will become a focal issue for tourism development and management (Gossling, S. & Hall, and C.M. 2006).

The EU climate change framework is governed by its European Climate Change Programme (ECCP) was launched in June 2000 through the European Union’s European Commission. This was a response to the Kyoto protocol. The reason thus that the climatic changes based EU initiatives have been less successful is not because of their ineffectiveness but mainly due to their recent legislative promulgation.

The Kyoto protocol itself was ratified in 2002.The European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) has been the most significant development in the last 6 years and the today the EU ETS remains the largest greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in the world.

Similarly the EU energy policy has just begun to manifest itself after its adoption in 2006 to a bid to reduce the emerging threat of CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles. Headman-Robinson (2008) has pointed out that it is possible to see more recent steps towards the furthering of the European Commission’s climate change and energy policy package, set out in Commission Communication: 2020 by 2020 and issued on January 23, 2008. This has led to a lot of controversy pertaining to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) amendments, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by non-ETS sectors, renewable energy targets, and energy efficiency and other measures.

The EU Focus (2008) has indicated the recent developments in this area.  It has been recently decided by the Commission to build up a package of proposals tailored to deliver the European Council’s commitments to fight climate change and promote renewable energy. It is also foreseen that these proposals might negatively affect local events tourism but a neutral position would further damage the economy.

Apart from that there are the technological and economical nuances involved here as these measures dramatically seek to increase the use of renewable energy in each EU member country and set legally enforceable targets for the EU member governments to achieve them. This is particularly true for countries with the highest rates for CO2 emissions and a through reform of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) is being looked at to finally cap such emissions EU-wide.According to the EU focus (2008) this “package seeks to deliver a reduction of EU greenhouse gases of at least 20 per cent and an increase of 20 per cent in the share of renewable energies in energy consumption by 2020, as agreed by EU leaders in March 2007.The emissions reduction will be increased to 30 per cent by 2020 if and when a new global climate change agreement is reached (Commission press release IP/08/80, MEMO/08/33, MEMO/08/34, MEMO/08/35 and MEMO/08/36, January 23, 2008)”(EU focus 2008).Finally in January 2007 the EU also made high level efforts to adopt an energy and climate change package and there were calls to the EU council and Parliament to approve “ an independent EU commitment to achieve a reduction of at least 20 per cent in the emission of greenhouse gases by 2020 compared to 1990 levels and the objective of a 30 per cent reduction by 2020” (EU FOCUS 2008)


Finally another reason the climate change initiatives will take a while to become effective is much more due to commercial and strategic reasons (Aidt, T. 1998), (Anderson, Blackhurst (Eds.) (1992),Conconi, P. (2000)).It was easy to shut down large factories which made refrigerators and ozone-depleting substances like the CFC’s.But any effort to implement efforts against climatic change may have serious economic implications. I would like to give the example of the South-West in the United Kingdom here which is a tourist destination Since the EU Policy is increasingly taking into account the fact that in the decades ahead climatic change will become a focal issue for tourism development and management (Gossling, S. & Hall, and C.M. 2006) this is also true for a large number of tourist destinations like the South West regions of Britain where the tourism industry has recently come to be considered as a highly climate sensitive economic sector similar to the food and transport industry (Wilbanks et al 2007).The South West is a particular example of the how regional manifestations of climate change are becoming highly relevant for tourism destinations and tourists alike whereas allegedly the needful response has been said to be missing from the local legislation of the region despite the emerging EU initiatives(Amelung et al 2008).

The key challenges however faced by the South West destination like countless other economies of the EU are not just overseas competition and sustainable development of the industry but the potential impacts of climate change, and how best to respond to the opportunities and challenges presented in the vacuum of EU initiatives (Peeters, P. 2007). On the face of it Global Warming is all set to provide the region with longer, reliable summers and keeping the local tourism business from being lost to sunnier destinations like the Mediterranean (Peeters, P. 2007).In the long run however the tourism industry and its stakeholders have been made aware of the implications for lacking a timely strategy to handle these changes which could potentially translate into an economic and environmental disaster for the region in the form of unsustainable pressure on the local environment(Ulph, A. (1999), Ulph, A. (2000), Walz,. Wellisch (1997), Wilson, J. (1996), WTO (1999)). This is an alarming concern for the local government which will lose its tourists either ways.

The current UK policy and measures in line with the EU initiatives on “going green: to counter detrimental climatic changes have included  more widespread congestion charging, improved  fuel efficiency of vehicles and investment in  low carbon vehicles. (The Energy Saving Trust 2004).This has mainly been a result of the wide awareness created by the likes of the recent environmental documents like the Stern Report of 2007/6 ((Scott, D. 2006).Such initiatives have demanded stronger EU  action for addressing the climatic issues affecting the UK Tourism industry particularly in the context of the marine and coastal environments. Furthermore Britain might be facing a new dilemma as it weighs up its monetary profits against the environmental damaged which will possibly be wrought by the 2012 Olympics in terms of greater carbon emissions and pollution.This has less to do with Ozone depletion and more so with the environmental measures being proposed by the EU.


The final question is whether Britain will try and maintain its profits during the Olympics and risk a infringement of the EU agenda or try to have “Greener” Olympics? The answer is simple. The EU has been less successful in the implementation of reforms to prevent climatic changes because the Kyoto protocol and the Stern Report remain recent developments while the law on Ozone depletion goes way back to the eighties. Other than that as mentioned before it was much easier to discipline large corporations through the notions of corporate social responsibility and win debates against the US and Russian trade counterparts (Sturm, Ulph (2002), Ulph, A. (1996a), Ulph, A. (1997a), Ulph, A. (1997b)). However climatic change remains an internal issue of economic interest. This depends much more on how much the EU member states are prepared to give back than receive in terms of environmental protection.