Reducing CFCs, Faking Carbon Offsets

Most people probably don’t think that one environmental good can be used to greenwash in another area. But just that may be happening in a conflict between the 1987 Montreal Protocol (designed to repair the ozone layer) and the Kyoto climate treaty.

The Montreal Protocol authorizes chemical companies around the world to produce an ozone-friendly refrigerant, HCFC-22. A byproduct of that chemical is a potent greenhouse gas, HFC-23, which is nearly 12,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The same chemical companies that are paid to make HCFC-22 are also paid to destroy HFC-23. See the conflict? If they overproduce HCFC-22, then they can get lots of money for destroying its byproduct, HFC-23. They may get as much as $100,000 per ton.

Source: “UN Board Could Rein in $2.7 Billion Carbon Market,” John Heilprin, Associated Press, August 21, 2010