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China to tackle HFCs

China has proposed a national plan to deal with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The plan recommends adjusting the existing regulations dealing with Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) to cover HFCs, and to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of existing measures.

It also proposes adding HFCs to existing regulations consistent with implementation of the Kigali Amendment, including a quota system that gradually reduces the production and consumption of HFCs for controlled uses.

China has not officially ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, but this initiative could achieve similar results.

Climate Campaign Lead at Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Avipsa Mahapatra, says the draft plan demonstrates a clear intent to tackle these potent greenhouse gases.

“This new proposed plan gives grounds for hope that China is committed to implementing systemic changes that will bolster the global momentum away from these harmful gases,” she says.

After a report was released last year that found China responsible for approximately 40–60 per cent of the rise in CFC-11 (trichlorofluoromethane) emissions, the EIA urged the Chinese government to undertake systemic measures to avoid the recurrence of such environmental crimes.

Several of the recommended steps are now included in the plan, including:

  • Increased fines and punishment for illegal production and sale of ODS and HFCs and other violations, and a provision encouraging and rewarding citizen reporting of such violations
  • Improved management and source control through inclusion of raw materials and co-produced substances subject to control measures such as automatic monitoring
  • Research, development, and application of ODS and HFC detection and monitoring technologies and methods
  • Finance, taxation and procurement mechanisms to support replacement alternatives, as well as research and technology development to encourage the recovery, recycling and conversion of ODS and HFCs.

Mahapatra says the climate crisis demands urgent global action to ensure we end reliance on these potent synthetic gases, and China is poised to be a significant leader in the protection of the climate and ozone layer.

“Hopefully this will pave the way for other major producers and consumers who have not yet signalled a commitment to ratify, notably the United States and India, to also phase-down HFCs.”

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