Six-year delay in ozone hole recovery due to HCFC emissions

A climate science study published in the British journal Nature Communications on the 17th found that some older applications still in use may emit more HCFCs (CFCs) than previously estimated. These emissions may delay the recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole and release the equivalent of 9 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Six-year delay in ozone hole recovery due to HCFC emissions


It is believed that there are still many uncertainties in its emission levels and trends, and that no source of the new emissions previously identified have been found.

Since the entry into force of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, scientists had expected the Antarctic ozone hole to return to pre-1980 levels in the second half of the 21st century. China acceded to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in September 1989 and the Protocol in June 1991, meeting the compliance targets set out in the Protocol for almost 30 years, and by May 2019, China had eliminated more than half of the “ozone-depleting substances” (ODS) in developing countries.

According to the definition of the Protocol, most countries have agreed to stop using CFCs in production. However, emissions of invested products (CFC libraries) continue. These products include some chillers, air conditioning equipment and thermal foam. This time, MIT researcher Megan Rickley and colleagues used a new statistical framework to assess the size of the CFC library and its corresponding emissions of CFC-11, CFC-12, and CFC-113. The results show that these emissions are much higher than previously assessed and represent a large portion of the current estimated CFC-11 and CFC-12 emissions (excluding CFC-11 emissions increased as a result of re-production after 2012).

Although the Protocol allows for the continued use of CFC-113 in certain applications, the level of emissions reported here exceeds the level satoftered in previous studies. The team estimates that current emissions from these reservoirs could delay the recovery of the ozone hole by six years and release the equivalent of 9 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The researchers believe the latest results highlight the need to recycle and destroy CFC libraries to reduce emissions. At the same time, recent findings of an unexpected increase in CFC-11 emissions and the failure to identify a source indicate the need to quantify emissions from these reservoirs in order to accurately assess the scale of emissions resulting from the resumption of production.

Editor-in-chief circle point

When we discovered the ozone hole over Antarctica, our hearts were in shock. No one thought that small human beings have such great destructive power, did not expect the earth’s umbrella so fragile. Since then, we have been reflective and aggressive, replacing cheap air conditioners and refrigerator refrigerants, limiting insulation foam materials. Soon, the ozone layer is recovering, and it is gratifying to see. In previous years, however, there have been red flags. Environmental protection should be our lifelong career, not casual sloppy.