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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

Unkept Promises: Chemours Newest Targets Miss the Mark
04/16/2021
Following EIA’s call to cease irresponsible operations and subsequent mounting press pressure, the American chemical giant, the Chemours company released a new statement on their climate goals yesterday.
Major Climate Win: Lessons for the Montreal Protocol
02/10/2021
Two new papers published in Nature suggest that the CFC-11 emissions are back on a downward trajectory potentially avoiding substantial delays in the recovery of the ozone layer. The papers show an accelerated decline in global atmospheric concentrations of CFC-11 from 2018 to 2019, and attribute 60% of the decline to China. This is a huge win for the ozone layer and our climate, which would not have been possible without a concerted global response to the findings from the ground and the atmosphere.

Recent Reports

Template: Letter of Support for EIA AIM Act Petition
04/13/2021
Interested organizations can submit a letter of support for EIA’s petition to EPA to restrict HFC uses under the AIM Act. Please download the attached template above to submit a letter to newberg.cindy@epa.gov.
EIA Petition to EPA Under AIM Act
04/13/2021
EIA is petitioning EPA to use its authority under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM Act), a new climate law passed in December 2020. The AIM Act authorizes EPA to phase down HFCs through three mechanisms of an allowance system, technology transitions, and regulations to minimize release through refrigerant management.

Recent Press Releases

U.S. EPA Proposes Landmark Climate Rule to Initiate HFC Phase-down
05/03/2021
Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed rulemaking to establish an allocation system for the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The proposed rule is the first step to implement the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM Act), the new climate law that sets the U.S. on course for compliance with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The rule proposes an allowance allocation and trading system, which will determine the amount of HFCs an entity can produce or consume, and create the mechanism to phase-down domestic HFCs.
EIA Petitions EPA to Restore US Climate Ambition on HFCs
04/13/2021
Today the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) joined by several other organizations petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict the use of super-pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in key cooling sectors, under new authority from the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. HFCs are man-made climate pollutants thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. HFCs are used mainly as refrigerants in air conditioning, heat pumps, and refrigeration, with other applications in foams, aerosols, fire suppression, semiconductor manufacturing, and solvents.

Recent Videos

Leaking Havoc: Exposing Your Supermarket’s Invisible Climate Pollution
02/15/2021
An EIA investigation into dozens of supermarkets in the greater Washington, D.C. area, including Virginia and Maryland, found a majority of stores to be leaking super-pollutant hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants
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