Environmental Investigation Agency accuses China firms over ozone-depleting gas

Patricia Espinosa Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC

According to traders and buyers of CFC-11 in China, the chemical is used in the majority of China's rigid PU foam sector.

The EIA's findings are supported by official Chinese government documents, with a 2016 report from environmental officials in Shandong province, a key region for foam production, stating: "There is still a large volume of illegally produced CFC-11 being used in the foam industry" and that its production is "highly concealed".

EIA's report discovered that China's foam insulation production was the main cause behind the increased CFC production.

"Avipsa Mahapatra at the EIA, on the incident said that they ". were dumbfounded when out of 21 companies, 18 of them across China confirmed use of CFC-11, while acknowledging the illegality and being very blasé about its use".

The foreign ministry told AFP on Monday that China had made "tremendous contributions" to achieving the aims of the Montreal Protocol.

CFCs were commonly used from the 1930's in aerosols, solvents and refrigerants without any knowledge of the dangers to the environment.

"The Multilateral Fund paid for the phase out of the production of CFC-11 and CFC-12", the expert said, naming two ozone depleting agents. From the detailed information and deliberation with different 18 companies and their investigators suggested that the use of chemical is major with producing polyurethane firms. "Some of them regularly move, making it very hard for the acting agencies to exercise oversight", Le claims. The EIA advises in its report that China "immediately cracks down on the illegal activities of the companies identified and their network", along with introducing other initiatives like more effective checks, more investigations, and higher fines.

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The report was released ahead of the July 11-14 Open-Ended Working Group of the Montreal Protocol in Vienna, where the issue of the rogue CFC-11 emissions is likely to be high on the agenda, the EIA said.

"If China doesn't stop this illegal production, it will imperil our slowly healing ozone layer", said Alexander von Bismarck, executive director, EIA US.

CFC-11 is used in the process of making things with foam material, also called blowing.

He added: "What we've uncovered is a systemic problem, not isolated incidents". "We want them to clamp down but it's supremely important for them to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the sector".

Clare Perry, EIA UK Climate Campaign Leader, said: "This is an environmental crime on a massive scale. How the Montreal Protocol addresses this issue will determine whether it continues to merit its reputation as the world's most effective environmental treaty". Now, the EIA has incriminating evidence against China being the source of the chemical.

In May this year, Nature magazine released a study showing that the reduction of banned chlorofluorcarbons (CFCs) which contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer has slowed by nearly half, indicating that someone, somewhere was producing the chemical.

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