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Banned Chemical Responsible For Antarctic Ozone Hole

After considering a number of possible causes, researchers concluded that CFC emissions must have increased after 2012.

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Emissions of a banned chemical most responsible for the giant Antarctic ozone hole are on the rise, according to a study which suggests that an international treaty that required an end to its production in 2010 is being violated.
Ozone Hole Representational Image. Pixabay
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Emissions of a banned chemical most responsible for the giant Antarctic ozone hole are on the rise, according to a study which suggests that an international treaty that required an end to its production in 2010 is being violated.

Trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, is the second-most abundant ozone-depleting gas in the atmosphere and a member of the family of chemicals most responsible for the giant hole in the ozone layer that forms over Antarctica each September.

Once widely used as a foaming agent, production of CFC-11 was phased out by the Montreal Protocol in 2010.

The new study, published in the journal Nature, documents an unexpected increase in emissions of this gas, likely from new, unreported production.

“We’re raising a flag to the global community to say, ‘This is what’s going on, and it is taking us away from timely recovery from ozone depletion,'” said Stephen Montzka, scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“Further work is needed to figure out exactly why emissions of CFC-11 are increasing and if something can be done about it soon,” said Montzka.

CFCs were once widely used in the manufacture of aerosol sprays, as blowing agents for foams and packing materials, as solvents, and as refrigerants.

Though production of CFCs was phased out by the Montreal Protocol, a large reservoir of CFC-11 exists today primarily contained in foam insulation in buildings, and appliances manufactured before the mid-1990s. A smaller amount of CFC-11 also exists today in chillers.

Since CFC-11 still accounts for one-quarter of all chlorine present in today’s stratosphere, expectations for the ozone hole to heal by mid-century depend on an accelerating decline of CFC-11 in the atmosphere as its emissions diminish – which should happen with no new CFC-11 production.

Emissions of a banned chemical most responsible for the giant Antarctic ozone hole are on the rise, according to a study which suggests that an international treaty that required an end to its production in 2010 is being violated.
Chemical Emission is the main reason of the hole in Ozone layer above Antarctica. Pixabay

Despite the increase in CFC-11 emissions, its concentration in the atmosphere continues to decrease, but only about half as fast as the decline observed a few years ago, and at a substantially slower rate than expected.

This means that the total concentration of ozone-depleting chemicals, overall, is still decreasing in the atmosphere. However, that decrease is significantly slower than it would be without the new CFC emissions.

Precise measurements of global atmospheric concentrations of CFC-11 made by scientists at 12 remote sites around the globe show that CFC-11 concentrations declined at an accelerating rate prior to 2002 as expected.

Then the rate of decline hardly changed over the decade that followed. Even more unexpected was that the rate of decline slowed by 50 per cent after 2012.

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After considering a number of possible causes, researchers concluded that CFC emissions must have increased after 2012.

This conclusion was confirmed by other changes recorded in NOAA’s measurements during the same period, such as a widening difference between CFC-11 concentrations in the northern and southern hemispheres – evidence that the new source was somewhere north of the equator.

Measurements from Hawaii indicate the sources of the increasing emissions are likely in eastern Asia. More work will be needed to narrow down the locations of these new emissions, Montzka said. (IANS)

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European Union Agrees To Cut Greenhouse Gases Emission

EU countries are separately considering the extent to which truck emissions should be cut, with a debate due Thursday.

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In this slow-shutter zoom effect photo taken Dec. 12, 2018, commuters backed up in traffic during the morning rush hour, in Brussels, a city that regularly experiences pollution alert warnings. VOA

The European Union agreed Monday to a goal of cutting carbon emissions from cars by 37.5 percent in a decade, finally settling differences between vehicle-producing countries and environmentally-conscious lawmakers.

The 28-nation bloc has been divided for months over how strict to be on CO2 emissions from vehicles as part of its push to reduce greenhouse gases overall by 40 percent by 2030.

Germany, with the EU’s biggest auto sector worth some 423 billion euros ($480 billion) in 2017, had warned tough targets and the drive toward more electric cars could harm its industry and cost jobs.

Representatives of the European Parliament and the EU countries finally struck a compromise Monday, after nine hours of talks, to cut emissions from cars by 37.5 percent and vans by 31 percent by 2030 compared with 2021.

Climate, emissions
– Greenpeace activists wear white morphsuits as they stage an action against particulate matter and health burden caused by diesel exhaust in Stuttgart, southern Germany. VOA

There was also agreement on an interim target of a 15 percent cut for both cars and vans by 2025.

“This is an important signal in our fight against climate change,” said current EU president Austria’s Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger.

But Brussels-based green lobbying group Transport & Environment expressed disappointment the deal was not even more ambitious.

“Europe is shifting up a gear in the race to produce zero-emission cars. The new law means by 2030 around a third of new cars will be electric or hydrogen-powered,” said its clean vehicles director, Greg Archer. “That’s progress, but it’s not fast enough to hit our climate goals.”

The compromise was tougher than the original EU executive proposal of an emissions decline of 30 percent compared to 2021.

Climate change, emissions, Global Warming
U.N. Climate chief Patricia Espinosa (C) is flanked by officials during a press conference at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, VOA

Germany had endorsed that, but a push by several EU countries, including the Netherlands and France, raised the target for EU countries to 35 percent. The EU Parliament had wanted 40 percent, so in the end, they split the difference.

The German automobile association (VDA) said the new legislation would set high demands while doing little to promote or provide incentives for switching to electric vehicles.

EU countries were among nearly 200 that agreed Saturday to rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord at a U.N. conference in Poland.

Also Read: Governments Have Failed to Respond Adequately to Climate Change at The U.N. Conference: Activists

“Today’s successful outcome is even more important in view of this weekend’s conclusions … in Katowice. It clearly shows, once again, our unwavering commitment to the Paris Agreement,” EU Climate Commissioner Arias Canete said.

EU countries are separately considering the extent to which truck emissions should be cut, with a debate due Thursday. (VOA)