The model indicated that, if not for the treaty, we would have seen about 3.7 centimeters, or 1.4 inches, of extra sea-level rise by the year 2100 — and nearly 14 centimeters, or more than 5 inches, in the 2050 scenario. This experiment shows what the world avoided, Solomon said.

Recent discussions about climate mitigation strategies have begun to include the possibility of carbon dioxide removal — a form of geoengineering that would use technology to pull carbon back out of the atmosphere. This technique can be viewed as a kind of Hail Mary strategy to prevent more global warming from occurring after the greenhouse gases have been emitted — but the authors of the new study caution that it won’t stop all the effects of climate change.

“A scenario that reduces atmospheric temperature cannot be assumed to simultaneously eliminate future sea-level rise, due to the time scales associated with release of stored energy in the ocean,” they note in the paper.

However, the technology isn’t developed enough for wide-scale use. For now, the researchers suggest that the best strategy is to follow through with commitments to halt greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, keeping in mind that their influence on the planet will far outlast our lifetimes.

“It’s really quite an achievement that the world has to celebrate that we did agree on the Montreal Protocol,” Solomon said. “And the challenge now is for us to think about other gases.”