China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment has announced the launch of a special Ozone Depleting Substances law enforcement campaign.
On 28 July, China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment held a meeting in Beijing to discuss the "organisation of a special campaign for the implementation of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) enforcement".
The announcement was made later on China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment website.
According to the news release, the topics discussed during the meeting included the deployment of special actions for ODS enforcement and training for law enforcement inspections in key industries.
The heads of law enforcement and monitoring of the provincial environmental protection departments of 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps attended the meeting.
The 'special actions' will include the comprehensive investigation of 'key national industry enterprises', including both local government self-inspections and ministerial inspections.
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment also stated that they will "conduct national cross-checks of environmental law enforcement personnel" in order to "verify the local government self-inspection and problem rectification".
Regarding any raw materials found to contain ODS during inspection, "the Ministry of Ecology and Environment will track the source of the raw materials, conduct comprehensive sorting, and lock down the illegal production of ODS by the enterprise".
According the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, "enterprises (or individuals) suspected of producing and selling ODS substances will be seriously investigated and punished".
Suspected CFC-11 producers to be criminally investigated
In a subsequent news release published 1 August, Ministry of Ecology and Environment representatives answered further questions regarding this announcement.
Asked about the purpose for carrying out this special action on ODS enforcement, the Ministry stated that it has been committed to completing the phase-out of ODS in accordance with the Montreal Protocol since it joined in 1991.
"As of January 1, 2010, China has completely stopped the production and use of four major controlled ODS including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride (CTC) and methyl chloroform," said the Ministry.
"As of January 1, 2015, China has completed the phase-out of the production and use of controlled use of methyl bromide. In the process, we have always regarded the law enforcement of ODS as an important part of daily law enforcement. This special action is a more large-scale and wide-ranging one than in recent years. The purpose is to find and combat illegal activities involving ODS (especially CFC-11) and ensure compliance result," it said.
In May 2018, findings published in Nature by Montzka et al. concluded that CFC-11 has been increasing at a rate of 25 ± 13% since 2012 in East Asia.
The Ministry explained how this special initiative differs from previous routine law enforcement inspection.
"The inspection of ODS is very different from the inspection of general environmental pollutants," said the Ministry.
"First of all, for the ODS that have already been eliminated, we are not sure if they still exist and where. From the past experience of law enforcement, even if there are individual companies that are taking risks and continuing illegal production, they are very hidden and difficult to find."
"Secondly, this special action is both a preventive measure and a way to ensure and verify previous performance results. Once violations are discovered, they will be investigated and dealt with resolutely."
Asked to elaborate on the kind of punitive measures to be taken on the illegally operating manufacturing companies, the Ministry stated, "for enterprises that illegally produce ODS, our consistent attitude is to administer severe punishments according to the law. We will never tolerate them".
"For the illegal acts discovered during this special initiative, we will severely punish the culprits according to the requirements of the Regulations on the Management of Ozone Depleting Substances, and the suspected criminals will be investigated for criminal responsibility by the relevant personnel."