China’s environmental ministry has cast aspersions over claims that the country is responsible for a recent spike in emissions of CFC-11, a banned ozone-destroying gas.
A recent report in science journal Nature found that China is responsible for approximately 40–60 per cent of the recent rise in CFC-11 (trichlorofluoromethane) emissions. Researchers traced the increase to the northeastern provinces of Shandong and Hebei.
CFC-11 was a commonly used refrigerant until it was discovered to have a high global warming potential and to be destroying the ozone layer. It has been phased out since 2010 under the Montreal Protocol. Thanks to the decline in CFC emissions, the ozone layer was predicted to recover fully by 2050. But the recent increases could set that back by a decade or more.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found evidence last year that 18 companies in China were using CFC-11 in the polyurethane (PU) foam insulation sector. Chinese authorities promised to crack down on any companies that were using the illegal gas.
At a press conference last week, however, China National Environmental Monitoring Centre deputy director Liu Tingliang denied claims that China was responsible for the emissions.
Tingliang said that the China Polyurethane Foam Industry Association does not support the conclusions of the article, and questioned its research methods and accuracy. The Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment also noted that national inspection results and domestic data do not agree with the findings.
The article was based on atmospheric observations scientists made in Japan and Korea.