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China says faces 'new challenges' in ozone layer protection

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China faces “new challenges” when it comes to cracking down on the production of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, the country’s environment minister said, adding Beijing has shown “zero tolerance” to violators.

China was criticised earlier this year after a study by the journal Nature said it was responsible for around half of the global rise in the banned ozone-destroying refrigerant trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11).

Beijing has insisted it is doing all it can to prohibit the use of CFC-11, one of the chemicals banned under the Montreal Protocol which pledged to phase out all global CFC production by 2010.

China ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1991. It said last year it had already eliminated as much as 280,000 tonnes of annual ozone-depleting substance (ODS) manufacturing capacity.

Chinese authorities had responded to the global rise in CFC-11 this year by carrying out more “special enforcement actions” to crack down on illegal production, Environment minister Li Ganjie said at an event to mark the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer on Monday.

Producers of carbon tetrachloride, a key ingredient of CFC-11, have also been put under 24-hour supervision, he said.

Li said the next phase in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol – which calls on countries to speed up the elimination of hydrochlorofluorocarbons, another group of ozone-depleting compounds – would bring “new challenges” to China.

Li said the government would improve its policies and strengthen supervision and management in order to “resolutely fulfil its commitments”. He said it would also work with international partners to help improve regulation and develop alternative products and technologies.

(Reporting by David Stanway. Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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