Global Warming and the Ozone Layer and Global Warming

Gareth Davies

Just when everyone thought the hole in the ozone layer was on the mend, that's the hole over Antarctica, suddenly it expanded to its previous maximum size in 2001, making it as large as the whole of North America!

That tidbit of information caught my eye, as it would no doubt catch the eye of most, if not all, Greens. It appeared in an article by Keith Bradsher entitled "As Asia Keeps Cool, Scientists Worry About the Ozone Layer", which appeared in the New York Times Business Section, February 23, 2007, and the Free Internet Press.

To read the article in full go to any of the following URLs:

To continue. Another tidbit of information floated to the surface in the article:

    "Pound for pound, HCFC-22 is only 5 percent as harmful to the ozone layer as the chlorofluorocarbons it replaced."


It seems that this is no either/or situation. The globe is warming up with or without the presence of this rare waste gas. But this rare waste gas is present and ever increasing as production of HCFC 22 gallops along. So now the globe is warming up faster than ever, despite the Kyoto Protocol.

What springs to my mind is the "triggering", as Al Gore puts it, of the Greenland ice cap melt and the Antarctic ice shelf melt.

We are not just embarking into dangerous waters here, we are already at the centre.

If the oceans should rise by six metres or more, which would be the case with the melt of the Greenland ice cap and the Antarctic ice shelf, then the attendant loss of life would be greater than all loss of life in all the wars in the last century and this.

How is this happening?


Consider first the Montreal Protocol. Wikipedia describes it thus:

    The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987 and entered into force on January 1, 1989. Since then, it has undergone five revisions, in 1990 (London), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing). Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international cooperation with Kofi Annan quoted as saying it is "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date...".

Wikipedia also notes:

    The phasing-out of the less active HCFCs started only in 1996 and will go on till a complete phasing-out is achieved in 2030.

Sounds like everything is under control. Would that it were!


Daikin Industries Ltd. is a Japanese manufacturer of refrigeration and air conditioning units and one of the largest in the world. It says this about HCFC:

    Fluorocarbons are compounds that replace part or all of the hydrogen found in methane, ethane and other gases with fluorine. They are known as "CFC", "HCFC" and "HFC" depending on their structure. CFC and HCFC are to be abolished under the Montreal Protocol.

There is no mention of the global warming aspect of production of HCFC 22.

The "Cincinnati Sub Zero" web site gives an insight into the global warming aspect of HCFC 22:

    Global Warming

    The ability of a chemical to create a greenhouse effect in the atmosphere, reflecting back to earth some of the energy that would have been re-radiated to deep space, is the principal measuring parameter of refrigerants and other chemicals in their Greenhouse Warming Potential (GWP). Now that the refrigeration industry has switched over to "ozone-friendly" refrigerants, our choices of these chemicals will be restricted based on their global warming impact.

Later on it is stated:

    Because of GWP, manufacturer’s are scrutinizing the HFCs used in refrigerant systems. ... Whenever an HFC has a particularly high GWP or a very long atmospheric lifetime, it will get careful attention. Of particular note is SUVAâ 95. This refrigerant is an excellent replacement for CFC-503, however, one of it’s components is PFC-116 which has a very long atmospheric lifetime.

Not being a scientist, I can only guess that perhaps this last paragraph is referring to that rare waste gas, produced while making HCFC-22, which is among the most powerful global-warming gases known and which I mention above. Perhaps the scientists among us can confirm this one way or another.


Just how big is this problem? Keith Bradsher says in his article:

    According to LG Electronics of South Korea, a giant maker of air-conditioners, slightly over 2 percent of Indian households currently have air-conditioners.

There are almost as many people living in India as in China. Let us say 1.2 billion. Of this, if there are say 5 to a household, 240 million households have air conditioners. The population of Canada is just over 32 million people.

Let us say the problem is very similar in China. Then we have about 9.6 million air conditioners in place using HCFC 22. Of course, as prosperity increases so will the number of air conditioning units so the problem is going to get worse before it gets better.

But the horror story does not end there. We have refrigeration and air conditioning units which have end users, of course. Look at the following list provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency at its web site:

    Refrigeration and air conditioning end-uses typically use a refrigerant in a vapor compression cycle to cool and/or dehumidify a substances or space, like a refrigerator cabinet, room, office building, or warehouse.

    End Uses

    Chillers typically cool water, which is then circulated to provide comfort cooling throughout a building or other location.

    Industrial process refrigeration systems cool process streams in industrial applications.

    Ice skating rinks frequently use secondary refrigeration loops. They are used by the general public for recreational purposes.

    Industrial process air conditioning is distinct from commercial and residential air conditioning. ... Units in this end-use provide comfort cooling for operators and protect process equipment.

    Cold storage warehouses are used to store meat, produce, dairy products and other perishable goods.

    Refrigerated transport moves products from one place to another while maintaining necessary temperatures, and include refrigerated ship holds, truck trailers, railway freight cars, and other shipping containers.

    Retail Food Refrigeration includes all cold storage cases designed to chill food for commercial sale. In addition to grocery cases, the end-use includes convenience store reach-in cases and restaurant walk-in refrigerators.

    Vending machines are self-contained units which dispense goods that must be kept cold or frozen.

    Water coolers are self-contained units providing chilled water for drinking. They may or may not feature detachable containers of water.

    Commercial ice machines are used in commercial establishments to produce ice for consumer use, e.g., in hotels, restaurants, and convenience stores.

    Household refrigerators and freezers are intended primarily for residential use.

    Residential dehumidifiers are primarily used to remove water vapor from ambient air for comfort or material preservation purposes.

    Motor vehicle air conditioning systems, or MVACS, provide comfort cooling for passengers in cars, buses, planes, trains, and other forms of transportation.

    Residential and light commercial air conditioning and heat pumps includes central air conditioners (unitary equipment), window air conditioners, and other products.

    Heat transfer includes all cooling systems that rely on convection to remove heat from an area, rather than relying on mechanical refrigeration. There are, generally speaking, two types of systems: Systems with fluid pumps, referred to as recirculating coolers, and those that rely on natural convection currents, referred to as thermosiphons.

    Very Low Temperature Refrigeration systems require maintaining temperatures in the vicinity of -80 degrees F (-62 degrees C) or lower. Examples include medical freezers and freeze-dryers, which generally require extremely reliable refrigeration cycles to maintain low temperatures and must meet stringent technical standards that do not normally apply to refrigeration systems.

The range of end uses seem never ending and are found everywhere. They are intrinsically incorporated into our daily lives insidiously. It seems like everything we do, even such innocent pastimes as ice skating, is wrong.


When one considers the office towers all over North America, Europe and the UK, and now India and China, all air conditioned, the magnitude of the problem is mind blowing.

What is the Kyoto Protocol doing about this? It expressly separates itself from Ozone Layer problems leaving it to the State Parties to the Montreal Protocol to deal with the issue.

To my non scientific mind, 2030 is just too far away for the banning of HCFC 22 to have any real effect on slowing down global warming. Furthermore, this point is emphasized by a statement made by Keith Bradsher:

    But huge challenges remain. The global auto industry has moved directly from the use of chlorofluorocarbons to gases that do not hurt the ozone layer, although they are powerful global-warming gases. Here in India, car factories now install air-conditioning systems that use these modern refrigerants.

    But owners of older cars, as well as people who buy new cars without air-conditioning and then decide they need it, still go to repair shops to install air-conditioners that use the worst of the chlorofluorocarbons.


Now all of this is enough to cause deep depression to set in given the incredibly slow pace of solutions and target dates under the Montreal Protocol. I did read somewhere, however, that at its next meeting, the State Parties to the Montreal Protocol had HCFC 22 at the top of the agenda for its next meeting.

Daniel A. Reifsnyder, [US] Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment, addressed the closing of the 18th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, held at New Delhi, India, November 2, 2006:

    Long-term recovery of the ozone layer from the effects of ozone-depleting substances is expected to span much of the 21 st century and is estimated to occur later than projected in the previous assessment (2002).

    The date when equivalent effective stratospheric chlorine at mid-latitudes returns to pre-1980 levels is now calculated to be 2049, for the case of global compliance with the Montreal Protocol with no significant exceptions.

    This date is about five years later than projected in the previous (2002) assessment.

    This projected later date primarily results from

    (1) an increase in CFC-11 and CFC-12 emissions due to the larger recent estimates of amounts currently contained in equipment and products (banks), and

    (2) an increase in HCFC-22 emissions due to larger estimated future production, as reported in the 2005 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change/Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (IPCC/TEAP) Special Report on Safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate System: Issues related to Hydrofluorocarbons and Perfluorocarbons.

    The return to pre-1980 conditions of equivalent effective stratospheric chlorine for the Antarctic vortex is projected to occur around 2065, more than 15 years later than the return of mid-latitude equivalent effective stratospheric chlorine to pre-1980 levels.


If the international community is dragging its collective feet, we may take some heart in what the "Cincinnati Sub Zero" web site says, in addition to what is cited above:


    Some interpretation will be helpful. Please be aware that uses of HCFC-22 will be far more restricted than HCFCs as a class of refrigerant. Most publications indicate that HCFCs will be phased-out in 2030 which leaves a long planning horizon. However, although HCFCs will still be produced at 35% capacity level in 2010, the [US] Clean Air Act permits 0% of HCFC-22 in new products starting in that year. DuPont has announced that it will stop producing HCFC-22 for new equipment in 2005.

    Whatever production of HCFC-22 is permitted will be aftermarket sales only. And, Europe has announced plans for an even quicker ban of HCFCs, eliminating all production by 2015.

    Also, on March 15, 1995, the [US] Clean Air Act added HFCs to the "no venting" rule to anticipate global warming legislation. Actually, this has always been recommended by the EPA as a prudent approach to protecting the environment, and one that CSZ has practiced since 1992. It has become even more compelling with the introduction of the lower temperature blends that are quite expensive and have very high global warming impact.

It seems that the US industry, at least, is ahead of the curve on this one, but will it be enough?

Where does Canadian industry stand on this?

A final note: It is no doubt the case that the persons representing the State Parties to the Kyoto Protocol and the persons representing the State Parties to the Montreal Protocol are, if not one and the same, at the very least, well known to each other. They must get together and join forces or work more cooperatively in the future if the goals under the two Protocols are to be accomplished in a timely fashion, rather than in the time frames allowed at present.