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Preventing Illegal Trade

A successful phase-down of HFCs depends on robust implementation and enforcement of the Montreal Protocol and associated domestic implementation by countries. The illegal production, use and trade in banned or controlled ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases used in the cooling sector remains a critical obstacle to international efforts to limit the worst impacts of climate change.

EIA has about three decades of experience investigating and exposing illegal production and criminal trade that endangers our environment and climate, including in ozone depleting and climate damaging coolants. We will continue to work to expose and document the extent and nature of any illegal production, use, and trade in synthetic fluorinated chemicals to inform the institutional and policy responses needed to prevent future reoccurrences and ensure full realization of these critical climate mitigation benefits.

Following scientific findings that detected unexplained rising emissions of CFC-11, an EIA investigation revealed widespread illegal use in China’s foam industry. Our initial findings published in Blowing it: Illegal Production and Use of CFC-11 in China’s Foam Blowing Industry exposed eighteen companies that reported widespread illegal use of the banned substance as a blowing agent in producing polyurethane foams used in building insulation and other applications.

Our subsequent report Tip of the Iceberg: Implications of Illegal CFC Production and Use reinforced our initial findings by providing hard evidence of CFC-11 use in lab tested foam samples gathered in China, analyzed the potential magnitude of the new ‘bank’ of CFC-11 foams created by this illegal use, and outlined unanswered questions regarding the potential extent of this environmental crime.

EIA has called for a comprehensive review of the monitoring and enforcement regime of the Montreal Protocol while also urging Parties to take action individually to ensure robust domestic laws and enforcement, including exploration of modernized national traceability systems that could provide end-to-end visibility of production, transport and use of controlled substances.

EIA calculations of the potential emissions and foam bank created by illegal use of CFC-11 in China, based on the assumptions described in our Tip of the Iceberg report.

Objectives:

• Investigate and expose illegal trade
• Identify key drivers
• Strengthen monitoring and enforcement regimes

Recent Blog Posts

Can I be HFC-free? A Quest for Climate-friendly Cooling
08/10/2020
Supermarkets in particular have enormous refrigeration systems that extend past the display cases to back room chillers, refrigerated trucks, cold warehouses and so on. With such large systems, supermarkets are among the largest corporate offenders of HFC use, with thousands of tons of these chemicals throughout their cold chain. Yet out of nearly 40,000 supermarkets in the U.S., barely 1% are known to have transitioned to HFC-free systems; our Supermarket Scorecard shows that action and change throughout the industry is needed. These large companies have a greater climate footprint than you or me, and thus a greater responsibility to transition to climate-friendly alternatives.
Finding the Promise in Compromise: EIA Proposal to Jumpstart California HFC Reclaim
07/27/2020
Last week EIA participated in California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) 6th workshop on proposed regulations to reduce emissions of super pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in cooling. The state’s rigorous process for proposing new regulations on HFC refrigerants has been ongoing for several years now and is in the final stretch. Opportunities for stakeholder engagement have been abundant and ARB has invited input from industry along the way. They even aligned with an industry proposed 2023 deadline for transitioning new air conditioning equipment to refrigerants with a global warming potential (GWP) less than 750.

Recent Reports

EIA Comments to OEWG-42
07/02/2020
EIA Comments to the 42nd Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG-42) TEAP Replenishment Task Force Report .
EIA Comments on ASHRAE-15 Standards Proposal
03/25/2020
EIA comments on a proposed revision to a major U.S. safety standards, ASHRAE-15, calling for important revisions.

Recent Press Releases

Unlocking Kigali Amendment Climate Benefits
08/17/2020
A new safety standard proposed by an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) working group is vital to maximizing emission reductions from a global phase-down of super pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
Climate-friendly Supermarket Scorecard
06/25/2020
Today, EIA launched the Climate-friendly Supermarket Scorecard assessing the largest U.S. supermarkets on actions and commitments to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - potent greenhouse gases used in cooling.
What are the HFC-free Technologies?
Widespread adoption of HFC-free technologies is cost-effective, energy efficient, and climate-friendly. Read EIA’s report Putting the Freeze on HFCs for hundreds of examples of HFC-free technologies available and in use today.
A Global HFC Phase-down
The October 2016 Montreal Protocol meeting in Kigali, Rwanda yielded a global agreement to phase down HFCs. Now countries must ratify and implement the Kigali Amendment! Read and share EIA's briefing on this great opportunity and obligation to avert climate catastrophe.
Help us mitigate climate destroying gases
Where are HFCs used?
What are HFCs?
How to Recycle Your Fridge