Greenpeace campaigner honoured by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Feature story - September 23, 2010
Longtime Greenpeace campaigner Janos Maté is being honoured today with the 2010 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Montreal Protocol Award for his work with Greenpeace to protect the ozone layer and climate over the past 18 years. The award ceremony is taking place today, September 23rd, at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C

In 1989, after working as a psychotherapist for nearly 20 years, Janos was hired by Greenpeace Canada as an anti-nuclear campaigner in Vancouver. In 1992, Janos transitioned to the ozone layer protection campaign, on which he has worked ever since. Janos was pivotal in the development of “Greenfreeze” technology that has since revolutionized the way modern refrigeration systems are built.


“Greenpeace revolutionized the global domestic refrigeration sector in 1993 by developing and commercializing the ozone and climate friendly Greenfreeze hydrocarbon technology,” said Janos, from his home in Vancouver. “Greenpeace was instrumental in the spread of this technology from Europe to most parts of the world, including China, Japan, and Latin America.”

Today, there are over 400 million Greenfreeze refrigerators in the world, and it is expected that by 2020, 75 per cent of domestic refrigeration production in the world will be using the Greenpeace technology. And while the organization received the UNEP Ozone Award from the United Nations for developing and making this technology freely available, this is the first time that Janos has been so publically honoured for the essential role he played in its development.

To be awarded the Montreal Protocol Award is particularly relevant, as Janos was instrumental in mounting the public pressure that, coupled with the appearance of a massive ozone hole over the Antarctic in 1986, finally compelled governments to create the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to control and phase-out ozone depleting substances.

The Montreal Protocol is arguably the most successful global environmental treaty to date. One hundred and ninety-six countries, all national governments on the planet, have ratified it. Between 1986 and 2010, the Montreal Protocol has facilitated nearly a 97 per cent reduction in the consumption of ozone depleting substances, which concurrently reduced the emissions of nearly 11 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases a year, with a net reduction of 135 billion tonnes between 1990 and 2010.

“The Montreal Protocol is an example of how the whole world must and can come together to meet global environmental challenges,” said Janos. “We desperately need such level of cooperation to tackle global warming. Much more needs to be done. But as I accept today the 2010 U.S. EPA Montreal Protocol Award, I shall have two thoughts: One, that I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to make a difference in the world through Greenpeace. And the other: that the most important lesson the ozone crisis teaches us is that it is easier to break it than to fix it. It is easier to tip than to restore nature’s balance. If we don’t learn that lesson, we are doomed.”