Study finds shock rise in levels of potent greenhouse gas

(The Guardian, 21 Jan 2020) Scientists had expected fall in levels of HFC-23 after India and China said they had halted emissions.

Efforts to reduce levels of one potent greenhouse gas appear to be failing, according to a study.

Scientists had expected to find a dramatic reduction in levels of the hydrofluorocarbon HFC-23 in the atmosphere after India and China, two of the main sources, reported in 2017 that they had almost completely eliminated emissions.

But a paper published in the journal Nature Communications says that by 2018 concentrations of the gas – used in fridges, inhalers and air conditioners – had not fallen but were increasing at a record rate.

Matt Rigby, from Bristol University, who co-authored the study and is a member of the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment, said academics had hoped to see a big reduction following the reports from India and China.

“This potent greenhouse gas has been growing rapidly in the atmosphere for decades now, and these reports suggested that the rise should have almost completely stopped in the space of two or three years. This would have been a big win for climate.”

Scientists say the fact they found emissions had risen is a puzzle and could have implications for the Montreal protocol, an international treaty that was designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer.

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The Guardian, 21 Jan 2020: Study finds shock rise in levels of potent greenhouse gas