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Illegal Chinese production of a banned crude oil-derived chemical used for cheap home insulation is thought to be the main source of rising emissions of gas that is damaging the ozone layer, according to environmental group Environmental Investigation Agency.
Two months ago, scientists published a study in the scientific journal Nature, according to which there has been an unexpected and persistent increase in global emissions of the ozone-depleting trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) substance that has been banned since 2010.
The thing that baffled scientists was that after a constant drop in the atmospheric CFC-11 concentrations between 2002 and 2012, the rate of decline has slowed down by around 50 percent since 2012, suggesting unreported new production.
The Environmental Investigation Agency published a new report on Monday, blaming the inexplicable rise in the chemical to illegal production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foam in China, used as insulation in its booming construction sector.
“EIA has evidence from eighteen companies in ten provinces that they use CFC-11. Detailed discussions with company executives make clear that these are not isolated incidents but instead represent common practice across the industry,” the environmental group said.
According to traders and buyers of CFC-11 in China, the chemical is used in the majority of China’s rigid PU foam sector. Eighteen producing factories out of 21 that EIA sources spoke to confirmed using CFC-11, according to the environmental group. Almost all of those companies admitted that the banned substance accounted for the majority of their production—between 70 percent and 100 percent.
“Several companies acknowledged the illegality of their actions and explained that it was used because it was cheaper and made more effective foams,” the report by the environmentalists said.
“An immediate and effective clampdown of the illegal use of CFC-11 in China is critical to ensuring the recovery of the ozone layer,” it says.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.