Protecting the environment with intelligence

Ozone Depleting Substances

Illegal trade in Ozone Depleting SubstancesAt first glance, illegal trade in Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) such as CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) might not seem like an environmental crime but it can have catastrophic effects on the recovery of the ozone layer and climate change.

The Montreal Protocol has been hailed at the world’s most successful environmental treaty. It aims to phase out the use of all ODS to help Earth’s ozone layer begin recovery. However, just a few years after the Protocol was agreed, a black market trade in ODS began. In the late 1990s, CFC smuggling rose to extraordinary levels, with the ongoing availability of these black market refrigerant gases slowing the uptake of less harmful alternatives.

For more than a decade, EIA’s unique and pioneering work to uncover this illegal trade has shone a spotlight on this issue and improved global enforcement efforts.

But while CFC smuggling has diminished, a new wave of smuggling is hitting markets. Introduced as temporary alternatives to CFCs, HCFCs are now also being phased out and Customs officials around the world are seeing a surge in illegal HCFC smuggling.

EIA’s analysis of the situation has revealed the threat posed by HCFC smuggling to the global environmental threat may be far greater than that of CFCs.