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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

Update on North American Safety Standards for Climate-Friendly Refrigerants
03/25/2020
This month a new standards proposal under ASHRAE-15, represents some progress for uptake of climate-friendly hydrocarbon refrigerants to replace super pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The proposal allows hydrocarbons to be used in corridors and lobbies of commercial buildings like hotels. It allows up to 114 grams of propane where previously none was allowed at all. This will enable vending machines and most other light commercial refrigeration equipment like small one door beverage coolers containing hydrocarbons to be used in these spaces.
California’s New Plan to Reduce HFCs in Supermarkets
02/03/2020
Part one in a series on policy trends on eliminating HFCs, emerging from California.

Recent Reports

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.
Search, Reuse and Destroy: Initiating Global Discussion to Act on a 100 Billion Ton Climate Problem
11/06/2019
Search, Reuse and Destroy: Initiating Global Discussion to Act on a 100 Billion Ton Climate Problem

Recent Press Releases

EIA Response to New Nature Paper on Urgent Need to Recover and Destroy CFC Banks
03/17/2020
Washington DC – A new paper published in Nature today warns that emissions from ‘banks’ of ozone-destroying CFCs, could potentially delay the Antarctic ozone hole recovery by about six years. The new paper, Quantifying contributions of chlorofluorocarbon banks to emissions and impacts on the ozone layer and climate, also estimates that future emissions from current CFC banks could lead to an additional 9 billion metric tonnes CO2e between 2020 and 2100.
EPA Rescinds Requirements on Super-Pollutant HFCs, Reversing Basic Safeguards on Leaks
02/27/2020
EPA Rescinds Requirements on Super-Pollutant HFCs, Reversing Basic Safeguards on Leaks

Recent Videos

Blowing It
07/08/2018
Information obtained by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) demonstrates conclusively that the use of CFC-11 in China’s rigid polyurethane (PU) foam insulation sector, in particular in the building and construction subsector, is widespread and pervasive. CFC-11 is used as a foam blowing agent for the manufacture of molded foam panels and spray foam used for insulation purposes
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.
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