Good news for the ozone layer: After a recent spike in CFC-11 pollution, emissions of this ozone-destroying chemical are on the decline.
Emissions of trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, were supposed to taper off after the Montreal Protocol banned CFC-11 production in 2010 (SN: 7/7/90). But 2014 to 2017 saw an unexpected bump. About half of that illegal pollution was pegged to eastern China (SN: 5/22/19). Now, atmospheric data show that global CFC-11 emissions in 2019 were back down to the average levels seen from 2008 to 2012, and about 60 percent of that decline was due to reduced emissions in eastern China, two teams report online February 10 in Nature.
These findings suggest that the hole in Earth’s ozone layer is still on track to close up within the next 50 years — rather than being delayed, as it would have been if CFC-11 emissions had remained at the levels seen from 2014 to 2017 (SN: 12/14/16).
One group analyzed the concentration of CFC-11, used to make insulating foams for buildings and household appliances, in the air above atmospheric monitoring stations around the globe. The team found that the world emitted about 52,000 metric tons of CFC-11 in 2019 — a major drop from the annual average of 69,000 metric tons from 2014 to 2018. The 2019 emissions were comparable to the average annual emissions from 2008 to 2012, Stephen Montzka, an atmospheric chemist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo., and colleagues report.