Global emissions of banned chemicals which are notorious for depleting the Earth’s Ozone layer – the protective barrier which absorbs the Sun’s harmful UV rays – are back on the decline, according to researchers at the University of Bristol.
The production of these ozone-depleting chemicals was banned globally in 2010 as part of the Montreal Protocol. However, in 2018, some scientists found a jump in emissions had begun in around 2013.
Further investigation revealed that this was due to the use of chemicals in the manufacture of insulating foams in China.
Following this finding, the scientific teams have continued to monitor atmospheric levels closely and in the latest study have found that efforts by the Chinese government have led to a dramatic decline in emissions.
Professor Matt Rigby, from the University of Bristol, co-author of the study said: ‘To quantify how emissions have changed at regional scales, we compared the pollution enhancements observed in the Korean and Japanese measurement data to computer models simulating how CFC-11 is transported through the atmosphere.
‘With the global data, we used another type of model that quantified the emissions change required to match the observed global CFC-11 concentration trends.
‘At both scales, the findings were striking; emissions had dropped by thousands of tonnes per year between 2017 and 2019. In fact, we estimate this recent decline is comparable or even greater than the original increase, which is a remarkable turnaround.’
Dr Luke Western, the co-lead author of the study added: ‘The findings are very welcome news and hopefully mark an end to a disturbing period of apparent regulatory breaches.
‘If the emissions had stayed at the significantly elevated levels we found, there could have been a delay, possibly of many years, in ozone layer recovery. On top of that, since the emissions is also a potent greenhouse gas, the new emissions were contributing to climate change at levels similar to the carbon dioxide emissions of a megacity.’
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