Letter: Delay over CFCs

Sir: While this year's ozone hole looks set to be the biggest ever (report, 30 September), CFC phase-out is being unnecessarily delayed. This is not only because of problems with the regulatory process but also because of a sustained campaign to damage the market for their replacements being led by minority pressure groups and companies whose products they endorse.

CFCs are still readily available. This is largely thanks to a black market of up to between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes per year, with illegal imports coming from developing countries (which are still allowed to produce them under the Montreal Protocol), and the Russian Federation, which failed to meet the deadline set for industrialised nations.

Meanwhile, industry continues to be criticised by some pressure groups for investing in HFCs - the ozone benign, non-flammable, energy efficient and low toxicity replacements for CFCs. Hydrocarbons and ammonia, which these groups promote, may be suitable for some uses but have their own safety and environmental problems.

Decisions about CFC replacement need to take into account safety, health and environmental matters as well as the practicalities of making sure new equipment or systems work efficiently. As long as misguided and misleading campaigning by green pressure groups continues to cause confusion in the market and divert attention from completing CFC phase-out, our global environment will continue to be the major loser.


ICI Klea,

Runcorn, Cheshire