Carbon dioxide often first springs to mind when considering greenhouse gas emissions, but there are other gases with a much higher global warming potential (GWP).
HCFC’s (or hydrochlorofluorocarbons) are among them. Some HCFC’s have thousands of times the GWP of carbon dioxide and a lot longer lifespan in the atmosphere.
An additional sting in the HCFC tail is these substances also deplete ozone. HCFC’s have been used as transitional chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) replacements in refrigerants, solvents and plastic foam manufacture. The CFC phase out began in 1989 under the Montreal Protocol and was completed by 2010.
While HCFC’s are certainly the lesser of the two ozone depletion evils, they still have a significant impact; particularly as production dramatically increased.
China has been a major producer and emitter of HCFC’s; accounting for 92 per cent of the total HCFC production in developing nations.
The good news is China’s government has recently committed to slashing and then ceasing HCFC production. Under the agreement, the emission of over 4.3 million metric tonnes of HCFC’s will be avoided by 2030. This is equal to a whopping 8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions.
To assist China in this endeavor, it will receive $380 million from the Multilateral Fund; a United Nations program that assists developing countries to phase out ozone layer damaging substances.
The Multilateral Fund has invested approximately US $3 billion in various activities that will phase out production of more than 460,000 Ozone Depletion Potential tonnes of substances in developing countries.