Chemicals that harm the ozone layer continue to be phased out in the European Union – and in 2015, consumption of these chemicals reached its lowest level since 2006.
According to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report, ‘Ozone depleting substances 2015‘, this drop has in part been due to a reduction in imports of these chemicals.
Stratospheric ozone absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet light so it does not reach the surface of the planet, helping prevent skin cancers and other problems such as damage to crops and marine phytoplankton.
Some chemicals, also known as ozone depleting substances (ODS), harm the ozone layer. They have been successfully substituted in most parts of the world since 1989 when the Montreal Protocol came into force.
Within the European Union (EU), the phase-out of ODS use is established through the ODS Regulation. Companies are obliged to report data on production, import, export and destruction, which is used to calculate ‘consumption’, the key metric tracking progress under the Protocol.
Consumption can be negative if the amounts of controlled substances produced and imported are lower than those exported or destroyed.
In 2015, the ODS consumption – measured in metric tonnes – reached the lowest negative level since 2006. The value (– 3 808 metric tonnes) was 1 305 metric tonnes lower than in 2014. A significant contributing factor to the low consumption was a 12 % decrease in imports compared with 2014. Moreover, destruction of controlled substances increased between 2014 and 2015.
The Montreal Protocol covers over 200 individual substances, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These were formerly mainly used as refrigerants, propellants in spray cans, foam blowing agents, solvents and fire extinguishers.
The data collected on these chemicals are expressed not only in metric tonnes, but also in ‘ozone depleting potential’ (ODP) tonnes, which show quantities in terms of their environmental effects rather than physical weight.
Click here to read the full report, ‘Ozone depleting substances 2015’.
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