Campaign group calls for thorough review of existing enforcement mechanisms to ensure global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions is not being undermined
The Environmental Investigation Agency is calling on Chinese authorities and all signatories to the Montreal Protocol to take strong action over the illegal production and use of the ozone depleting substance CFC11 in polyurethane (PU) foam insulation.
The calls follow an investigation by the campaign group that uncovered “widespread and pervasive” use of CFC-11 for construction purposes in China. EIA’s findings will serve to raise wider questions raised over the effectiveness of current monitoring mechanisms for global commitments to curb greenhouse gas use and emissions.
The report has been published ahead of the Montreal Protocol working group meeting, taking place from July 11 to 14. EIA is pushing for an immediate clampdown of CFC11 use in China and a detailed review of all existing monitoring and enforcement.
All parties that have signed up to the Montreal Protocol, initially introduced in 1987 to globally phase out use of substances such as CFCs) and HCFCs, are now being asked to establish a multi-stakeholder taskforce to investigate CFC11 use.
The EIA is also asking the signatories to work with governments in the region to obtain information from data-monitoring stations to pinpoint CFC11 emissions, while also ensuring that CFC-containing polyols are not being imported elsewhere, particularly in large containers.
Chinese authorities have been asked to crack down on illegal activities resulting in the supply of the banned substance. Ensuring that harsh penalties are issued to companies identified as using or selling CFC11 is one of the report’s other recommendations to discourage adoption of the substance across the country’s construction supply chain.
EIA said it had opted to investigate use of CFC11 after scientists identified an increase in emissions between 2012 and 2016, despite national datasets showing there was no new production or consumption of the banned substance since 2006.
EIA said it had uncovered evidence from industry sources across China, including 18 different factories, that large amounts of the unaccounted CFC emissions came from widespread use of the substance in the foam blowing production industry.
The campaign group’s report stated, “EIA researchers identified several potential sellers of CFC11, some of which had advertised online through internet retailers including Alibaba.com. In June 2018, EIA sources contacted 25 white agent and/or foam manufacturing factories based on internet searches. Of a total of 21 companies that responded, 18 companies from 10 different provinces confirmed illegal use of CFC11 in the production of foams used for insulation in buildings and other applications.”
The specific issue of CFC11 use in China is primarily a domestic matter, according to the EIA. However, the campaign group contended that traders spoken to as part of the investigation has suggested that CFC11 in the preblended polyol could be exported with relative ease as mixtures were not checked.