May 23, 2019 12:30 pm

China is still releasing banned ozone-killing chemicals into atmosphere: study

WATCH (January 2018): NASA says ozone hole is recovering.


Despite an international ban, emissions of an ozone-destroying chemical have increased — and researchers have pinpointed the location of the emitters to China.

In a new study released in the journal Nature, scientists used atmospheric observations to show that emissions of trichlorofluoromethane, commonly known as CFC-11, are coming from mainland China — specifically, the northeastern provinces of Shandong and Hebei.

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CFC-11 was globally banned along with several ozone-destroying chemicals under the Montreal Protocol of 1987. China was among the 148 parties to the agreement.

The emissions are “likely to be the result of new production and use, which is inconsistent with the Montreal Protocol agreement to phase out global chlorofluorocarbon production by 2010,” the study said.

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Under the Montreal Protocol, 148 countries committed to reducing their CFC emissions to virtually zero by 2010.

Those efforts have resulted in an overall 15 per cent decline in the amount of CFC-11 in the atmosphere, according to a 2018 study.

But the study showed the decline had slowed substantially since 2012 — implying someone was releasing new production of the banned chemical, the study said. At the time, the study suggested a “mystery polluter” was coming out of Asia.

READ MORE: Someone is leaking a banned, ozone-killing chemical into the air

The new locational data points the finger directly at China, saying the study recorded a decline in CFC-11 in the atmosphere from South Korea and Japan.

The study says the increase in emissions isn’t from the pre-Montreal Protocol days because records of the banked amount of CFC-11 in the region were “not large enough to accommodate the emissions that occurred in subsequent years.”

READ MORE: China is leaking banned, ozone-killing chemicals — watchdog

The data reinforces a watchdog report from 2018 that claimed at least 18 companies in China were using the chemical to make foam insulation.

The Environmental Investigation Agency, a non-governmental organization that says it investigates “environmental crime and abuse,” said Chinese executives knew about the use of the banned substance and called enforcement efforts by the government “lax.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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