USA: A new report estimates that existing banks of CFCs, once widely used as refrigerants in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, could delay Antarctic ozone hole recovery by six years.
The use of ozone-depleting CFCs were phased out under the Montreal Protocol agreement but are still contained in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, chemical stockpiles, foams and other products around the world.
The report in Nature Communications claims that bank sizes of CFC11 and CFC12 are larger than recent international scientific assessments suggested – in part due to apparent underreporting of production – posing a continued threat to the ozone layer as well as contributing an estimated 9 billion MTCO2e emissions.
The authors of the report are recognised experts from across the globe including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Bristol, UK, and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands.
Referring to recent reports of unexpected emissions of CFC11, the paper’s authors call for the need to better quantify releases from these banks, and associated impacts on ozone depletion and climate change.
“The observation of unexpected CFC11 emissions after the 2010 global production phase-out therefore highlights the need for the best possible understanding of how much CFC remains in banks worldwide and how much banks are contributing to current emissions and their changes over time,” the report says.
“Continuing emissions from remaining banks are not prohibited under the Montreal Protocol, but recovery and destruction of unneeded CFC banks has been considered by policymakers as a means to both enhance ozone recovery and further safeguard the climate system as part of the Protocol. The issue of additional production (potentially illegally or as an accidental by-product) is also a topic of scrutiny.”
The authors maintain that not destroying the CFC banks in the year 2000 has already added 25 billion MTCO2e emissions since 2000 and delayed ozone hole recovery by an additional seven years.
The Environmental Investigation Agency, the environmental group which exposed massive continuing use of illegal CFC11 in China, said that the findings demand “urgent global action” to “search, reuse and destroy” these gases before they leak into the atmosphere.
“The paper demonstrates that the Montreal Protocol can no longer turn a blind eye and must address the urgent unfinished business of dealing with the sources of these banks, including feedstocks, to ensure the complete recovery of our fragile ozone layer,” commented EIA climate campaign lead Avipsa Mahapatra.
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