Nature, Vol.590, No.7846, 433-+, 2021
A decline in emissions of CFC-11 and related chemicals from eastern China
Emissions of ozone-depleting substances, including trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11), have decreased since the mid-1980s in response to the Montreal Protocol(1,2). 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 China(3,4). 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 reporting(3,4) and subsequent action by industry and government in China(5,6). Atmospheric data and chemical-transport modelling show that CFC-11 emissions from eastern China have again decreased, after increasing in 2013-2017, and a delay in ozone-layer recovery has probably been avoided.