Emissions of carbon tetrachloride from Europe

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Volume 16, Issue 20, p.12849 - 12859 (2016)






Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is a long-lived radiatively active compound with the ability to destroy stratospheric ozone. Due to its inclusion in the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MP), the last two decades have seen a sharp decrease in its large-scale emissive use with a consequent decline in its atmospheric mole fractions. However, the MP restrictions do not apply to the use of carbon tetrachloride as feedstock for the production of other chemicals, implying the risk of fugitive emissions from the industry sector. The occurrence of such unintended emissions is suggested by a significant discrepancy between global emissions as derived from reported production and feedstock usage (bottom-up emissions), and those based on atmospheric observations (top-down emissions). In order to better constrain the atmospheric budget of carbon tetrachloride, several studies based on a combination of atmospheric observations and inverse modelling have been conducted in recent years in various regions of the world. This study is focused on the European scale and based on long-term high-frequency observations at three European sites, combined with a Bayesian inversion methodology. We estimated that average European emissions for 2006–2014 were 2.2 (± 0.8) Gg yr−1, with an average decreasing trend of 6.9 % per year. Our analysis identified France as the main source of emissions over the whole study period, with an average contribution to total European emissions of approximately 26 %. The inversion was also able to allow the localisation of emission "hot spots" in the domain, with major source areas in southern France, central England (UK) and Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg), where most industrial-scale production of basic organic chemicals is located. According to our results, European emissions correspond, on average, to 4.0 % of global emissions for 2006–2012. Together with other regional studies, our results allow a better constraint of the global budget of carbon tetrachloride and a better quantification of the gap between top-down and bottom-up estimates.