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Companies misleading over greenhouse super gases says report

By Colin Ricketts - 25 Aug 2011 11:12:1 GMT
Companies misleading over greenhouse super gases says report

A report from Swiss scientists says some chemical companies in Europe are secretly releasing a powerful greenhouse gas - exceeding what their governments report by as much as 140 per cent.

The study by EPMA, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, published in Geophysical Research Letters, reports on amounts of HFC-23 in Western Europe.

HFC-23 is a so-called super greenhouse gas which has a global warming potential some 14,800 times higher than CO2 and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is calling for new laws to destroy the gas which is produced as a by product from producing the refrigerant HCFC-22.

The Swiss scientists found that the Solvay Solexis plant near Milan releases 10-20 times more HFC-23 than its government reports.

Similar results were found across Europe with, for example, a Dupont plant in The Netherlands and an Ineos plant in the UK exceeding reported emissions. The Arkema plant in France released twice as much of the gas as was reported.

The EIA is calling for reform of the policy framework for dealing with the gas.

"Given the vast profits made by the European fluorochemical industry, it is absolutely scandalous that they are not destroying all HFC-23 produced by their factories," said Clare Perry, Senior Campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

"The EU should mandate 100 per cent destruction of HFC-23 and there is an opportunity to do this right now with the revision of the F-Gas Regulation."

The EIA is also calling for an end to emissions trading around these gases, saying payments for destroying HFC-23 are as much as can be earned from HCFC-22 production providing what they call a 'perverse incentive' for producing the gas. A Danish proposal to ban this offsetting has been backed by 16 of the 27 EU nations.

Samuel LaBudde, EIA Senior Atmospheric Campaigner said: "HFC-23 offsets have no place in international carbon markets and need to be banned, just as governments the world over need to mandate HFC-23 destruction by manufacturers."

EIA has been joined by other NGOs in a call to end production of all HFCs.

Top Image Credit: Environmental Pollution © Speedfighter