Criticism over CFC substitute dismissed

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The Independent Online
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CHEMICALS company ICI has dismissed a Greenpeace attack on its solution to the ozone hole problem as misguided and destructive. The environmental group claims a new group of industrial chemicals, HFCs, increase the threat of global warming.

ICI is a world leader in manufacturing HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). These compounds, used for refrigeration and air conditioning, are a substitute for the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which have severely damaged the Earth's protective ozone layer. Under an international treaty, CFC consumption should be banned in the developed world at the end of this year.

Today Greenpeace publishes a report which condemns HFCs because, while they do not destroy ozone, they are extremely effective at trapping heat energy in the earth's atmosphere. HFCs are 3,000 times more effective as a 'greenhouse gas' than the principle global warming pollutant, carbon dioxide.

The organisation is promoting hydrocarbons made from crude oil or ammonia which can also be used as coolant inside refrigerators.

Mike Harris of ICI's Klea division, which manufactures HFCs, said HFCs would, at the most, contribute to 2per cent of the man-made greenhouse effect. Although they do make a powerful greenhouse gas their concentration will be miniscule compared to that of carbon dioxide.

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