KNU Study Reveals a Decline in Emissions of Freon Gas

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Professor Sun Young Park’s team, School of Earth System and Sciences at Kyungpook National University, reports in international joint research with Bristol University in the U.K. and other researchers that Freon Gas (CFC-11), which had been increasing in eastern China, decreased in 2019 and recovered to pre-2013 levels. The study was published on February 10 (local time) in Nature, a world-renowned international journal.

Under the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement on the production and regulation of ozone-destructive substances, Freon gas has been banned since 2010, but it has been reported to academia that emissions are increasing again globally in 2018. However, the exact area and amount of emissions have not been determined.

In this regard, Professor Park’s team announced to Nature in 2019 that since 2013, Freon gas emissions have increased by more than 7,000 tons per year in eastern China, which is the result of new products and uses not reported by the UNEP(UN Environment Programme) and the Ozone Secretariat.

In the latest study, Professor Park’s team analyzed the concentration of prion gas in the atmosphere on Jeju Island and Hateruma Island in Japan using an atmospheric chemistry model. As a result, it confirmed that Freon gas emissions in eastern China decreased to pre-2013 levels in 2019. This represents about 60% of the global reduction in Freon gas emissions in 2019.

Also, Professor Park’s team confirmed that emissions from materials involved in Freon gas production in eastern China have been higher than expected since 2013 based on previous reports such as the United Nations, and that emission reductions occurred between 2017 and 2018, a year earlier than Freon gas reduction.

It explained that Freon gas was produced and used even after 2010 when production was banned, and that production has been reduced and suspended since 2017.

Professor Sun Young Park said, “It is very encouraging that the global environmental threatening Freon gas emissions have decreased again. The immediate response of academia, the international community and the Chinese government to the increase in Freon gas emissions has not slowed down.”

“However, Freon gas emissions observed over the years are likely to be part of the total production, and additional emissions from buildings and equipment filled with Freon gas could continue for decades to come,” she added.

The study was conducted with support by the Ministry of Science and ICT and National Research Foundation of Korea.