Long Phased-Out Refrigeration and Insulation Chemicals Still Widely in Use and Warming the Climate

Long Phased-Out Refrigeration and Insulation Chemicals Still Widely in Use and Warming the Climate

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: March 17, 2020 SNIP: Starting decades ago, international governments phased out a class of chemical refrigerants that harmed the ozone layer and fueled global warming. Now, a new study indicates that the remaining volume of these chemicals, and the emissions they continue to release into the atmosphere, is far larger than previously thought. The findings point to a lost opportunity to cut greenhouse gas emissions on a par with the annual emissions from all passenger vehicles in the United States, but also highlight a low-cost pathway to curb future warming, researchers say. The study, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, looks at “banked” volumes of three leading chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) chemicals whose production is banned but remain in use today in older refrigeration and cooling systems and in foam insulation. CFCs were phased out of production in developed countries by 1996, and in developing countries by 2010, under the Montreal Protocol because of the leading role they played in creating the so-called “ozone hole” in the atmosphere. Emissions from these remaining CFC sources were equivalent to 25 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from 2000 to 2020, the study concludes. Averaged over 20 years, that equals the emissions of 270 million automobiles per year according to the EPA’s greenhouse gas equivalency calculator, more than all registered U.S. passenger vehicles. “If we don’t deal with these banks, they are going to be emitted and contribute to delaying ozone hole recovery and contribute to future warming,” Megan Jeramaz Lickley, a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and lead author of the...
Chinese industrial areas identified as a major source of illegal ozone-depleting CFC gas

Chinese industrial areas identified as a major source of illegal ozone-depleting CFC gas

SOURCE: ABC News (Australia) DATE: May 22, 2019 SNIP: According to a study published today in Nature, emissions from eastern China of the chlorofluorocarbon CFC-11 have been increasing by 7,000 tonnes a year since 2013. The findings are based on air monitoring stations in South Korea and Japan, which were able to pick up tell-tale plumes of the gas as they wafted across the sea from China. CFC-11 is used in polyurethane foams that insulate buildings and refrigerators, but its production was supposed to have been phased out by 2010 under the Montreal Protocol. The gas also contributes to global warming. But research published in May last year using NOAA’s network of air monitoring stations found evidence someone in the world was producing and emitting thousands of tonnes of CFC-11 into the atmosphere. At the time, the head of the United Nations Environment Program told a New York Times investigation that illegal production of CFC-11 was “nothing short of an environment crime which demands decisive action.” The scale of that crime has now been quantified. Measurements and modelling by an international team of researchers has shown an extra 11,000 to 17,000 tonnes of CFC-11 per year is being emitted into the atmosphere. The ozone layer is Earth’s “sunscreen”, and its thinning due to CFCs makes us more vulnerable to the harmful effects of the Sun’s ultraviolet...
Ozone hole mystery: China insulating chemical said to be source of rise

Ozone hole mystery: China insulating chemical said to be source of rise

SOURCE: BBC News DATE: July 9, 2018 SNIP: Cut-price Chinese home insulation is being blamed for a massive rise in emissions of a gas, highly damaging to the Earth’s protective ozone layer. The Environmental Investigations Agency (EIA) found widespread use of CFC-11 in China, even though the chemical was fully banned back in 2010. Scientists have been extremely puzzled by the mysterious rise in emissions. But this report suggests the key source is China’s home construction industry. Just two months ago, researchers published a study showing that the expected decline in the use of CFC-11 after it was completely banned eight years ago had slowed to a crawl. CFC-11 makes a very efficient “blowing agent” for polyurethane foam, helping it to expand into rigid thermal insulation that’s used in houses to cut energy bills and reduce carbon emissions. One seller of CFC-11 estimated that 70% of China’s domestic sales used the illegal gas. The reason is quite simple – CFC-11 is better quality and much cheaper than the alternatives. The authorities have banned CFC-11 but enforcement of the regulation is poor. “We were absolutely gobsmacked to find that companies very openly confirmed using CFC-11 while acknowledging it was illegal,” Avipsa Mahapatra from EIA told BBC News. “The fact that they were so blasé about it, the fact that they told us very openly how pervasive it is in the market, these were shocking findings for us.” This is a big deal because of the amount of the dodgy chemical being used and its potential to reverse the healing that’s starting to take place in the ozone layer. China’s polyurethane...
An unexpected and persistent increase in global emissions of ozone-depleting CFC-11

An unexpected and persistent increase in global emissions of ozone-depleting CFC-11

SOURCE: Nature and The Outline DATE: May 28, 2018 SNIP: The Montreal Protocol was designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by enabling reductions in the abundance of ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere. The reduction in the atmospheric concentration of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) has made the second-largest contribution to the decline in the total atmospheric concentration of ozone-depleting chlorine since the 1990s. However, CFC-11 still contributes one-quarter of all chlorine reaching the stratosphere, and a timely recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer depends on a sustained decline in CFC-11 concentrations. A simple model analysis of our findings suggests an increase in CFC-11 emissions of 13 ± 5 gigagrams per year (25 ± 13 per cent) since 2012, despite reported production being close to zero since 2006. The increase in emission of CFC-11 appears unrelated to past production; this suggests unreported new production, which is inconsistent with the Montreal Protocol agreement to phase out global CFC production by 2010. “I’ve been making measurements of long-lived gases in the atmosphere for nearly three decades. And this is the most surprising and unexpected thing I’ve seen.” — Stephen Montzaka, a chemist who studies and monitors CFCs for The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association...