China and Thailand have collaborated using the OzonAction iPIC system to prevent a huge illegal consignment of ozone-depleting and climate-damaging R22 from going ahead.
Created and hosted by the United Nations, the informal Prior Informed Consent (iPIC) system enables countries to share details of eligible importers and exporters with other member countries through a secure online platform.
In this instance, the co-operation led to the prevention of an illegal shipment of 72 tonnes of damaging hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Primarily used as refrigerants for air conditioners and fridges, HCFCs are controlled under the Montreal Protocol, and are being phased out by all countries according to a specific timeline.
Here’s how the story played out in this episode: China’s ODS import/export management office received an application from a chemical company for a shipment to Thailand last month. A third-party intermediary had been employed to broker the trade between the importer and exporter.
A number of factors – the size of the requested export, the involvement of a third party, and a history of recent requests from Thailand – prompted China’s ODS import/export management office to use iPIC to investigate the trade’s legitimacy with the National Ozone Unit of Thailand.
iPIC focal points can carry out simple consultations with their trading partner countries to verify intended shipments of ODS.
Thailand confirmed that the importing company was officially registered but that the approved import licence was for a different manufacturer in China. Further investigation revealed that the importer in Thailand had not requested any imports from China in 2020.
Subsequently, China rejected the export application, preventing a potential illegal trade of 72 metric tonnes of ODS. This was about 130,320 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, or 3.96 ODP tonnes.
China’s ODS team followed up with the Chinese exporter, but found that the exporting company was not involved in the fraud. With facilitation from the UN’s OzonAction’s Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP) team in Bangkok, it was concluded that the suspected counterfeit licence was created by the third-party broker.
As suspected, the contact details provided on the shipping documents were not genuine or current.
China has been using iPIC since 2013, and conducts around 300 iPIC queries every year.
A global voluntary initiative, iPIC is used by more than 100 countries, including Australia.