Science 3 min read

Hydrofluorocarbon Emissions Growing at Record Values

A new study contradicted previous predictions that hydrofluorocarbon emission would drop by around 90 percent from 2015 to 2017.

g0d4ather / Shutterstock.com

g0d4ather / Shutterstock.com

Previous reports suggest that the global emissions of greenhouse gas, hydrofluorocarbon (HFC-23) were on the decline. However, a new study discovered otherwise.

For over two decades, climate experts were concerned about the atmospheric concentration of HFC-23, and for good reasons.

Hydrofluorocarbon is exceptionally potent when compared with other greenhouse gases. For example, one tonne of HFC-23 emissions is equivalent to the release of over 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately, the gas plays a role in the production of another chemical used for cooling systems. So, its emission level was soaring, especially in developing countries.

Then in 2015, two primary emitters of the HFC-23, China and India, announced plans to reduce emissions in factories that produce the gas. Two years after the pledge, the countries reported that they had almost wholly eliminated HFC-23 emission.

Based on this report, scientists predicted that global emission of hydrofluorocarbon should drop by almost 90 percent between 2015 and 2017. Eventually, atmospheric levels of the gas would grind to a halt, or so they thought.

According to a recent paper in Nature Communications, not only did HFC-23 emissions increase, but it reached an all-time high in 2018. But why?

A Closer Look At Hydrofluorocarbon Emission

A team of international researchers saw the report on the massive drop in emissions and grew excited. So, they decided to take a closer look at the atmospheric data.

The report suggested that the HFC-23 rise should stop entirely within two to three years. However, when this reduction did not materialize, the researchers started wondering why.

Speaking on the findings, lead author of the study and visiting research fellow at the University of Bristols School of Chemistry, Dr. Kieran Stanley said:

“Our study finds that it is very likely that China has not been as successful in reducing HFC-23 emissions as reported. However, without additional measurements, we can’t be sure whether India has been able to implement its abatement program.”

A decline in hydrofluorocarbon emissions that’s as large as the report suggested would have been a huge win. The planet could have avoided an equivalent of Spain’s CO2 emissions between 2015 and 2017.

Expectedly, the new findings have a massive implication on the Kigali Amendment.

Global Hydrofluorocarbon Emission and The Kigali Amendment

In 1987, a group of countries came together to sign the Montreal Protocol. It’s an agreement to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of substances that cause ozone depletion.

In place of the ozone-depleting substances, countries soon started using potent greenhouse gas, hydrofluorocarbon. So, 29 years later, after the Montreal Protocol, the parties returned to sign the Kigali Amendment.

The new amendment aimed to reduce the impact of HFCs on climate change. For countries to be compliant with the Kigali agreement, they must cut down HFC-23 emissions as much as possible.

While the amendment does not yet bind China and India, their reported reduction would have put them on course to be consistent with Kigali, says Dr. Stanley. However, it looks like there is still work to do.

Read More: Microsoft to Recapture the Carbon Dioxide it Emitted In the Past

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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