An international team of scientists discovered that the level of a powerful greenhouse gas - trifluoromethane (hydrofluorocarbon-23, HFC-23) - is increasing in the Earth's atmosphere, despite the fact that in 2017 its production was allegedly almost completely eliminated. A new threat to climate catastrophe prevention efforts is reported in a press release on Phys.org.
One ton of trifluoromethane emissions is equivalent to the emission of more than 12 thousand tons of carbon dioxide. This gas has little industrial use, but it comes from the production of another chemical widely used in refrigeration systems in developing countries. In 2015, India and China, which account for the main contribution of HFC-23, announced their intention to reduce their gas emissions, and in 2017 their governments announced that they had almost completely eliminated them.
Scientists expected that the concentration of HFCs in the Earth's atmosphere would begin to decrease between 2015 and 2017. However, a new study found that gas content actually increased, reaching record levels in 2018.
The increase may be due to emissions from China and India, which in fact have not been as successful in their trifluoromethane elimination program as they reported, the researchers said. If the promises were kept, an increase in greenhouse gases equivalent to Spain's carbon dioxide emissions over the same period could have been avoided between 2015 and 2017.