BEIJING (Reuters) - China has banned the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in line with global agreements to phase out the use of ozone layer-depleting products, the country’s environmental watchdog said in a statement.
Barring raw materials and aerosols used for medicinal purposes and other exempted uses, the production of CFCs would be banned from July 1, the State Environmental Protection Agency said in a notice posted on the government’s official Web site (www.gov.cn) on Wednesday.
“Relevant companies must demolish equipment involved in the production of CFC substances by August 15,” the notice said, adding that offenders would be punished according to the law.
The chemical action of chlorine and bromine released by man-made CFCs, which are used in some refrigerants and aerosol propellants, causes damage to the ozone layer which blocks harmful ultra violet rays.
Holes in the ozone layer are blamed for increased risk of skin cancer and cataracts in humans. They may also harm crop yields and sea life, according to researchers.
The order was issued in accordance with the Montreal Protocol and national plans to eliminate industrial production of CFCs, it said.
The 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer commits signatory nations to progressively ban the use of products, including CFCs, that hurt the ozone layer, and threatens trade sanctions for non-compliance.
China signed the Montreal Protocol in 1991, which bound the country to gradually reduce the production and use of CFCs starting from 1999.
In 2005, China banned the production and sale of industrial refrigerants using CFCs, and has flagged a complete ban on CFCs by 2010.
Scientists largely credit the Montreal Protocol, signed by about 150 countries, with reversing the depletion of the ozone layer, which stopped thinning in 1997.
The layer is expected to recover to 1980 levels — the time that scientists first noticed the effects of human activities on it — by mid-century, researchers have said.