The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has called on Parties to the Montreal Protocol to take decisive action against the production of illegal refrigerants including a global ban on disposable refrigerant cylinders.

On the eve of the 30th Meeting of the Parties (MoP30) to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer opening in Quito, Ecuador, the EIA has called for the establishment of a taskforce to examine the size of current and future banks of CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs.

The recommendations are featured in a report entitled “Tip of the Iceberg: Implications of Illegal CFC Production and Use”.

Earlier this year the EIA released evidence showing that unexplained emissions of the ozone-destroying chemical CFC-11 in the atmosphere was the result of its illegal production and use in China.

“Our undercover investigators obtained evidence from 18 different companies in 10 Chinese provinces which confirmed their use of CFC-11 as a blowing agent for the manufacture of foams to insulate buildings and appliances. CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons, were responsible for seriously damaging the Earth's protective ozone layer,” the report said.

The EIA has updated the report with independent laboratory tests of polyurethane (PU) foam samples confirming the presence of CFC-11 as a blowing agent.

EIA climate campaigns leader, Clare Perry, said this week the scale and impact of this illegal trade shows how the Montreal Protocol’s current compliance and enforcement regime is not fit-for-purpose.

“There has never been a greater need to make all possible reductions to greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change; the steps the Protocol takes now will either make or break its reputation as the most successful environmental treaty ever,” Perry said.

In addition to the threat to the ozone layer from CFC-11, large seizures of CFC-12, another ozone-depleting substance, have occurred in several countries and Europe is already struggling with an illegal trade in hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants as a result of significant supply cuts under the EU F-Gas Regulation.

European Union (EU) industry groups have joined forces in recent weeks and issued statements calling for more action to stem the tide of illegal refrigerants across Europe.

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