An environmental pressure group claimed on Monday that Chinese factories are illegally using ozone-depleting CFCs, which have recently seen a spike in emissions that has baffled scientists.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) campaign group said 18 factories in 10 Chinese provinces they looked into admitted to using banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Producers and traders told EIA researchers posing as buyers that the majority of Chinese companies manufacturing foam — in high demand as an insulator in the booming construction sector — continue to use CFC-11 because of its better quality and lower price.
CFCs are chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, the thin gaseous shield that protects life on Earth from dangerous solar rays.
They were banned under the internationally binding 1987 Montreal Protocol and production of CFCs officially stopped in developing countries in 2010. Chinese authorities previously said the country successfully ended the industrial practice of using CFCs in 2007.
The Foreign Ministry told AFP on Monday that China had made “tremendous contributions” to achieving the aims of the Montreal Protocol. “The increase in CFC-11 emission concentration is a global issue that should be taken seriously by all parties,” the Ministry said in a faxed comment, without responding to the specific claims raised in the EIA report.
“As a party to the Montreal Protocol, China, like the international community, is also highly concerned about this issue,” the statement added.
A representative from one company cited in the report said the firm sources CFCs from unlicensed factories with “shady” operations in Inner Mongolia and conceals the substance from customs agents.
Others cited in the report said their companies produce the substance themselves, with one source saying its factories can produce 40 tonnes of CFC agents per day.
Traders cited by EIA also said that Chinese companies export the banned CFC agents by mislabelling them as Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) compounds and other chemical blends.
“If China doesn’t stop this illegal production, it will imperil our slowly healing ozone layer,” said Alexander von Bismarck, EIA U.S. executive director. “CFC-11 is also a super global warmer as well,” he added.
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