A decline in emissions of CFC-11 and related chemicals from eastern China

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Nature, Volume 590, Issue 7846, p.433 - 437 (2021)






Emissions of ozone-depleting substances, including trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11), have decreased since the mid-1980s in response to the Montreal Protocol1,2. In recent years, an unexpected increase in CFC-11 emissions beginning in 2013 has been reported, with much of the global rise attributed to emissions from eastern China3,4. Here we use high-frequency atmospheric mole fraction observations from Gosan, South Korea and Hateruma, Japan, together with atmospheric chemical transport-model simulations, to investigate regional CFC-11 emissions from eastern China. We find that CFC-11 emissions returned to pre-2013 levels in 2019 (5.0 ± 1.0 gigagrams per year in 2019, compared to 7.2 ± 1.5 gigagrams per year for 2008–2012, ±1 standard deviation), decreasing by 10 ± 3 gigagrams per year since 2014–2017. Furthermore, we find that in this region, carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC-12) emissions—potentially associated with CFC-11 production—were higher than expected after 2013 and then declined one to two years before the CFC-11 emissions reduction. This suggests that CFC-11 production occurred in eastern China after the mandated global phase-out, and that there was a subsequent decline in production during 2017–2018. We estimate that the amount of the CFC-11 bank (the amount of CFC-11 produced, but not yet emitted) in eastern China is up to 112 gigagrams larger in 2019 compared to pre-2013 levels, probably as a result of recent production. Nevertheless, it seems that any substantial delay in ozone-layer recovery has been avoided, perhaps owing to timely reporting3,4 and subsequent action by industry and government in China5,6.