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Emissions of halocarbons from India inferred through atmospheric measurements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9865–9885
Number of pages21
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Early online date6 Aug 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 12 Jul 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 6 Aug 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Sep 2019


As the second most populous country and third fastest growing economy, India has emerged as a global economic power. As such, its emissions of greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases are of global significance. However, unlike neighbouring China, the Indian sub-continent is very poorly monitored by atmospheric measurement networks. India's halocarbon emissions (here defined as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and chlorocarbons) are not well-known. Previous measurements from the region have been obtained at observatories many hundreds of kilometres from source regions, or at high altitudes, limiting their value for the estimation of regional emission rates. Given the projected rapid growth in demand for refrigerants and solvents in India, emission estimates of these halocarbons are urgently needed to provide a benchmark against which future changes can be evaluated. In this study, we report the first atmospheric-measurement derived halocarbon emissions from India. Air samples were collected at low-altitude during an aircraft campaign in June and July 2016 and emissions were derived from measurements of these samples using an inverse modelling framework. These results were evaluated to assess India's progress in phasing out ozone-depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol. India's combined CFC emissions are estimated to be 54 (27 – 86) Tg CO2eq yr-1. HCFC-22 emissions of 7.8 (6.0 – 9.9) Gg yr-1 are of similar magnitude to emissions of HFC-134a (8.2 (6.1 – 10.7) Gg yr-1). We estimate India's HFC-23 emissions to be 1.2 (0.9 – 1.5) Gg yr-1 and our results are consistent with resumed venting of HFC-23 by HCFC-22 manufacturers following the discontinuation of funding for abatement under the Clean Development Mechanism. We report small emissions of HFC-32 and HFC-143a and provide evidence to suggest that HFC-32 emissions were primarily due to fugitive emissions during manufacturing processes. Lack of significant correlation among HFC species and the small emissions derived for HFC-32 and HFC-143a indicate that in 2016, India's use of refrigerant blends R-410A, R-404A and R-507A was limited, despite extensive consumption elsewhere in the world. We also estimate emissions of the regulated chlorocarbons carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform from Northern and Central India to be 2.3 (1.5 - 3.4) Gg yr-1 and 0.07 (0.04 - 0.10) Gg yr-1 respectively. While the Montreal Protocol has been successful in reducing emissions of many ozone-depleting substances, growth in the global emission rates of the unregulated very short-lived substances poses an ongoing threat to the recovery of the ozone layer. Emissions of dichloromethane are found to be 96.5 (77.8 - 115.6) Gg yr-1 and our estimate suggests a 5-fold increase in emissions since the last estimate derived from atmospheric data in 2008. We estimate perchloroethene emissions from India and chloroform emissions from Northern-Central India to be 2.9 (2.5 - 3.3) Gg yr-1 and 32.2 (28.3 – 37.1) Gg yr-1 respectively. Given the rapid growth of India's economy and the likely increase in demand for halocarbons such as HFCs, the implementation of long-term atmospheric monitoring in the region is urgently required. Our results provide a benchmark, against which future changes to India's halocarbon emissions may be evaluated.

    Research areas

  • CFC, HCFC, HFC, Chlorocarbon, INDIA

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