Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Science | By

China blamed for baffling rise in ozone-depleting gas

China blamed for baffling rise in ozone-depleting gas

The chemical is a strong ozone killer and has been strictly banned since 2010.

Illegal Chinese production of a banned crude oil-derived chemical used for cheap home insulation is thought to be the main source of rising emissions of gas that is damaging the ozone layer, according to environmental group Environmental Investigation Agency.

The investigation by the EIA, a London-based campaign group, found that wide-spread illegal production and use of CFC-11 is occurring in China to supply the rigid PU foam industry.

Their data pointed to East Asia as the source of renewed production of the gas, a potent destroyer of the ozone layer that protects life on Earth from risky solar rays.

The discovery of a hole as large as North America set off a global alarm, prompting countries to sign the Montreal Protocol in 1987 that banned the use of CFCs. Even developing countries are supposed to have stopped using CFC-11 (aka trichlorofluoromethane) in 2010, despite its historic utility in making appliances and foam building insulation.

The massive scale of this issue shows that China is willingly blinking its eye to keep its manufacturing sector continue its upper hand in the world with no concerns for environment, said the report.

A representative from one company cited in the report said the firm sources CFCs from unlicensed factories with "shady" operations in Inner Mongolia and conceals the substance from customs agents.

"Avipsa Mahapatra at the EIA, on the incident said that they ". were dumbfounded when out of 21 companies, 18 of them across China confirmed use of CFC-11, while acknowledging the illegality and being very blasé about its use". This could mean that countries that have pledged to ban CFCs may have inadvertently imported them.

"If China doesn't stop this illegal production, it will imperil our slowly healing ozone layer", said Alexander von Bismarck, EIA US Executive Director.

Montzka added that it was possible that someone else is also still producing CFC-11.

The report comes ahead of a working group of the Montreal Protocol in Vienna from July 11-14, where the issue of rogue CFC-11 emissions is likely to be on the agenda.

Further, EIA's research shows that there is a significant potential for illegal worldwide trade in CFC-11 containing pre-formulated polyols for foam manufacturing in other countriestoo.

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